Today in OpenGov: Presidential tax returns are the people’s business


TOP NEWS: The Washington Examiner reported on our call for Congress to mandate that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns. As the paper notes, the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has continued to dismiss calls for him to release his tax returns, as has been the precedent for decades.

Trump told ABC News that his tax rate was “none of your business” and that he does not believe the public has a right to know what is in his tax returns before they go to the polls. [Miami Herald]

We respectfully disagree. Last night, the Daily Show said that Trump is less transparent than President Richard Nixon. On this issue, they’re correct.

#50DaysOfFOIA: OpenTheGovernment: “On May 15th, a broad coalition of open government and accountability organizations and media outlets are launching a ‘50 Days of FOIA‘ campaign — counting down the days to the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on July 4, 2016. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of the FOIA, while promoting the passage of meaningful reform legislation that now has the potential to become law by the time the statute turns 50 in less than two months.” []

OPEN ALLIES: Sunlight’s Richard Skinner shared some insights from his trip to Prague, where international political finance activists found areas of common concern.


  • The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices “remains a congressional document that is not subject to disclosure under FOIA.” []
  • Federal News Radio reported further on your humble correspondent’s conversation about FOIA reform in Congress. [Federal News Radio]
  • Speaking of FOIA, the outgoing federal FOIA ombudsman blogged about his accomplishments as the director of the Office of Government Information Services. While Director James Holzer wrote that he would be returning to the Department of Homeland Security, he did not explain why he left the office after only 9 months. [OGIS]
  • A new super PAC backing Trump pledged that it would raise $20 million. [New York Times]
  • Here’s a look at how the USDA’s Organic Integrity Database is ensuring compliance while increasing transparency about the food supply. [Federal Technology Insider]
  • The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is going to examine potential misconduct by the IRS commissioner in two hearings. []
  • The SEC is objecting to proposed legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant to access digital papers because civilian law enforcement agencies can’t issue warrants. The House passed the Email Privacy Act 410-0 last month. [New York Times]
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg responded to the furor over reports that contractors in the Trending Topics section on the world’s largest social network were suppressing conservative news. “We have found no evidence that this report is true,” said Zuckerberg. “If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it.” [Facebook]

State and Local

  • The new open data policy that Sunlight worked on with the city of Anchorage, Alaska, is moving it up the ranks of U.S. cities.

  • As we noted in yesterday’s edition, Kansas amended its open records law this week due in no small part to the reporting of Bryan Lowry of The Wichita Eagle. [CJR]
  • The Rhode Island Accountability Project is requesting internal affairs reports from across the state and posting them online. [Valley Breeze]
  • Hollie Rosman Gilman wrote about how new digital tools are enabling participatory budgeting, focusing on New York City. [Huffington Post]
  • A Texas court is weighing whether the public has a right to know who supplies lethal pharmaceuticals used in executions. [Houston Chronicle]
  • Boston plans to implement a controversial “countering violent extremism” surveillance strategy. [MuckRock]
  • For the second time, police in Manchester, N.H., have charged Union Leader reporter Mark Hayward $20 for taking a picture of two accident reports with his cellphone. Hayward has had the fees refunded. [Union Leader]


  • Politwoops expanded to El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Peru thanks to efforts by the Open State Foundation, which means that the tweets of politicians in those countries will now be retained and published online. Sunlight runs Politwoops in the United States. [Open State]
  • The United Kingdom’s National Health Service does not have regulatory approval to share data with Google. [New Scientist]
  • The United Kingdom is going to try an open contracting pilot. [Open Contracting]
  • OpenCorporates now has data on 100 million companies. They’re now advocating for public registries of beneficial ownership disclosed as open data. Sounds about right! [OpenCorporates]
  • Here’s a look at how open data can help people live and learn in Toronto. [The Star]
  • Oluseun Onigbinde wrote about transparency challenges in Nigeria’s states. [Medium]
  • Ukrainian hackers published the names and contact information of thousands journalists working in Ukraine. Dangerous and ugly. [New York Times]


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