Today in OpenGov: Pay to sway

Map of state contributions
Trump’s political donations to state candidates top $800,000 in nearly 15 states

QUID PRO WHAT? The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party has a history of donating to state attorneys general. Drew Doggett: “In March of this year, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS against the Donald Trump Foundation, alleging it violated its tax status. The foundation, a 501(c)(3) that is barred from political activities, donated $25,000 to “And Justice for All,” a 527 political organization associated with supporting Florida GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election. In 2013, the Florida Attorney General’s Office — led by Bondi — reportedly contemplated suing Trump University alongside New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a multi-state lawsuit over complaints by former students. Three days after the Orlando Sentinel wrote about the Floridians who felt scammed by Trump University, the Trump Foundation contributed money to And Justice for All. And just days after that, Bondi rescinded the investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.” [READ MORE]

DISCLOSE: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would require major party presidential candidates to release tax returns. Libby Watson: “The bill, which is co-sponsored by 16 lawmakers, would require major party presidential nominees to release three years of tax returns within 15 days of securing the nomination. Within 30 days, the chairman of the Federal Election Commission would be required to ask the secretary of the Treasury Department to release the returns. Along with five co-sponsors, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced a companion bill in the Senate on May 25.” 

Sunlight called on Congress to make this requirement law in May. [READ MORE]

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE: The ban on cameras in (most) federal courts will continue. “…the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-setting body of the federal judiciary chaired by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, decided in March to maintain its ban on cameras in federal trials courts after the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management did not recommend any changes to the Conference’s policy. … Ultimately … the cameras pilot program did not produce sufficient or persuasive evidence of a benefit to the judiciary to justify the negative effect upon witnesses and/or the significant equipment and personnel costs associated with video recordings of district court civil proceedings,” the committee concluded.” [RCFP]


  • The General Accountability Office released a report on 18F and the U.S. Digital Service. It’s not a bombshell: Most agencies are pleased with what they’ve done, although the GAO said that the USDS and 18F need to improve goals and performance measurement and make sure to work with agency chief information officers, not around them. The GAO did find, however, that the USDS isn’t working on any high-risk federal IT projects, which calls into question how well it’s accomplishing its mission of avoiding another debacle.
  • The Omidyar Network (a previous funder of the Sunlight’ Foundation) has released a new report on what “civic tech” can learn from social movements. [Medium]
  • There’s no evidence that Google is manipulating search results to benefit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. [Vox]

State and Local

  • Dennis Hoey: “House Speaker Mark Eves wants the Right to Know Advisory Committee to consider allegations that the Maine Warden Service failed to comply with the Freedom of Access Act.” [Press Herald]
  • Reversing course, Maine will keep the court records of dismissed cases public. [Press Herald]
  • House Bill 16-1401 would ban local governments in Colorado from reporting the results of restaurant inspections using a letter, number or symbol grading system. [Food Safety News]
  • In the meantime, the Colorado Springs Gazette has published a database of restaurants. [Gazette]
  • Here’s a model for closing the digital divide in San Jose. [DataSmart Cities]
  • A California court has blocked a ban on using Assembly video in political ads. [Washington Post]
  • The controversy over Facebook’s shaping of political news sharing points to some emerging issues between cities and tech companies, writes Blair Levin. [Brookings]


  • Brazil’s scandal-prone government is reconsidering impeaching former President Dilma Rousseff. “In light of a series of damaging leaked audiotapes, the abrupt exit of two ministers, allegations of corruption against other interim officials and baffling decisions by Temer, including appointing a Cabinet of all white men, some senators say they are reconsidering their final vote on the matter.” [AP]
  • Australia’s National Action Plan for open government is a work in a progress — but then, aren’t they all? [Open Government Partnership]
  • It’s time for Nova Scotia to get serious about open government, says the Right to Know Coalition. [The Coast]
  • The United Kingdom’s Data Science Ethical Framework is part of transparency and accountability. Sounds like a good standard for every country.


Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox!

We want to find and share the most important stories about open government around the world from the past 24 hours here. To do that, we’ll need YOUR help. Please send your tips and feedback at If you would like suggest an event, email us by 7 am on the Monday prior to the event.