Today in OpenGov: State campaign finance laws weaken, textual transparency, new DoJ data collection


WEAK TEA: An investigation by the Sunlight Foundation “found that 12 states modified their campaign finance limits: Six in ways that strengthened them and six in ways that weakened them. This may seem like parity, but a closer examination shows that while the former bills are laudable, they pale in scope and power compared to the latter, the bills that reduce limits.” [READ MORE]

INFLUENCE ABROAD: Newly released emails renewed questions about whether the Clinton Foundation rewarded donors with influence at the State Department. The State Department declined to answer further questions about this issue today. [New York Times]


  • SHOT DOWN: In state after state, courts are striking down voter identification laws crafted to have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities. [The Economist]


  • UNCONSTITUTIONAL: A scathing report by the Justice Department found racial discrimination by the Baltimore Police Department, which routinely violated the civil rights of Baltimore residents. [Baltimore Sun] [New York Times] [Huffington Post]
  • MOAR DATA: The Justice Department isn’t currently collecting data on all arrest-related deaths in the USA — but it’s going to start, per an announcement in the Federal Register. [NBC News] [Vice]
  • SHOW THEM THE MONEY: Brad Heath: Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers — though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases. Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash. [USA TODAY]
  • RULES: The Department of Defense released revised procedures and a fact sheet for for collecting intelligence.. DoD Manual 5240.01 makes sure the Pentagon complies with Directive 5240.01 and Executive Order 12333. [Lawfare]
  • OPEN UP: The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates called for the publication of privately drafted standards used in legislation. [ABA Journal]

State and local

  • TEXTUAL TRANSPARENCY: Transcripts of text messages show senior members of Governor Chris Christie’s staff knew about lane closures in New Jersey. [WNYC]
  • IT’S COMPLICATED: “As technology evolves, public disclosure is getting more complex for state legislatures.” [Route Fifty]
  • SHOWING US THE MONEY: Massachusetts will begin to disclose salary information for newly hired employees on its state open data portal. [StateScoop]


  • TALK FAST: The “Civil Society Stakeholder Session” originally planned for this spring has been rescheduled for August 23rd in D.C., at the National Archives. [RSVP]
  • TRANSITIONS: Public Citizen is hosting a forum focusing on the ongoing presidential transition teams at the National Press Club in D.C. on Sept. 7. [RSVP]
  • CIVIC HACKING: Etalab and Civic Hall are co-organizing a Open Government Partnership Toolbox sprint in New York City on Sept. 21. [RSVP]

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