Today in OpenGov: Untangling foreign influence, new lows for campaign transparency


INFLUENCE: A new tranche of emails obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act suggest special access to Secretary Clinton for Clinton Foundation donors. Untangling the web of influence that the Foundation represents through divestment and disclosure will be hard, but crucial if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is elected President of the United States. [New York Times]

“It is very difficult to see how the organization called the Clinton Foundation can continue to exist during a Clinton presidency without that posing all sorts of consequences,” Sunlight’s John Wonderlich told the Times. “What they announced only addresses the most egregious potential conflicts.”

UNDISCLOSED: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “financial dealings are the only part of his background available to assess his competence to lead the country,” writes Kurt Eichenwald. [Newsweek]

DIGGING: An investigation into the real estate mogul’s debt and property, however, “underscored how much of Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery.” [New York Times]

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON: De-legitimizing American democratic institutions threatens the stability of our political system. It’s dangerous, and every one of our national political leaders should speak out to affirm the integrity of our voting system and the essential role of a free press in a democracy. [Politico]

REMINDER: Sunlight is investigating political “dark money” in states this cycle — but we need you to tell us what you’re seeing and reading. [HELP US]



  • If you want to understand the commitment of the U.S. National Archives to open government, read this talk by Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. [AOTUS Blog]
  • Holding defendents in jail because they can’t make bail is unconstitutional, said the Justice Department. Holding local justice systems accountable on this won’t be easy, but this is an important step in the long arc of history towards justice. [NBC News]
  • “Citizens now have easy access to NASA-funded research data, including peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings. NASA’s new research portal.” [Open NASA]
  • The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act would add valuable disclosure requirements. We support it. [Demand Progress]

State and local

  • Here’s a useful primer on shield laws and journalists’ privilege. [CJR]
  • The New York Public Library released 300,000 ebooks for members to borrow and read. [NYPL]
  • “Lower Hudson Valley residents try out New York Freedom of Information Law in quest for public records. It wasn’t pretty.” [LOHUD]


  • Andrew Kramer: “No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006.” [New York Times]
  • Live streams from smartphone-toting citizens pose fresh challenges for governments that want to filter free speech. [BBC]
  • As with applying behavioral science to “nudge” people, governments can gain a lot from using algorithms in public policy, but risks exist as well. In both cases, disclosure and audits are critical. [The Economist]
  • “A culture of demanding data and facts from all forms of political representation could be a game changer,” writes Nanjira Sambuli. [Daily Nation]
  • “Instead of a shining example of transparency, Wikileaks has degraded into a malware snakepit,” writes Sandra Upso. [Backchannel]


  • The “Civil Society Stakeholder Session” originally planned for this spring has been rescheduled for Aug. 23 in D.C., at the National Archives. [RSVP]
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sunlight and the Data Foundation are teaming for the Great California Database Hunt on August 27. [RSVP]
  • 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]
  • The annual Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit will be in New York City, Sept. 15–16. [RSVP]
  • Etalab and Civic Hall are co-organizing an Open Government Partnership Toolbox sprint in New York City on Sept. 21. [RSVP]
  • Collections as Data, at the National Archives in D.C. on Sept. 27. [RSVP]
  • There will be an Open Data Research Symposium in Madrid on Oct. 5. [RSVP]
  • The International Open Data Conference will be in Madrid from Oct. 6–7. [RSVP]
  • TransparencyCamp will be in Cleveland, Ohio from Oct. 14-15. [RSVP]
  • The Code for America Summit is in Oakland, Calif. on Nov. 1–3. [RSVP]
  • There will be a workshop on Data and Algorithmic Transparency at Columbia University on Nov. 19. Proposals due Sept. 9. [RSVP]

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