Transparency advocates in DC and around the United States are preparing for a Trump White House, from Judicial Watch to the Project on Government Oversight, as James Shiffer writes at the Star Tribune. “The Freedom of the Press Foundation has labeled Trump an “enemy of press freedom.” The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to use its “full firepower” to keep Trump from trampling the Constitution.”
We called Trump’s record on openness so far “deeply discouraging.” Given Trump bucking protocol on press access last week and no press conferences held since Election Day, we share the concerns regarding the First Amendment that Margaret Sullivan expressed in the Washington Post.
Any democratic norms without a legislative mandate behind them can be undone or ignored in a new administration. Take nothing for granted. The immune system of American democracy will need support from the public to preserve the health of the body politic.
TRACKING THE TRANSITION 2016
- President-elect Trump named Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus to be his chief of staff and Breitbart executive chairman Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. [WSJ]
- While the choice of Preibus puts in place a man well-known in Washington politics, Bannon has been denounced by civil rights groups, Democrats and Republic strategists because of his association with white nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic views. [New York Times]
- The GSA will work with the transition team on a plan to identify and address conflicts of interest on the Old Post Office building in DC, which is now a Trump property. [Buzzfeed]
- The questionable plan the Trump team has advanced to address those conflicts, however, is not a blind trust. [Washington Post]
- To date, the plan the president-elect has advanced falls far short of what’s necessary to remove unprecedented conflicts of interest. [CNN]
- So, too, do the undefined steps a Trump administration would take on ethics in government and lobbying. When asked by Leslie Stahl about the lobbyists on his transition team, Trump responded that “everybody is a lobbyist down there.”
Donald Trump: Everything, everything down there– there are no people– there are all people that work — that’s the problem with the system, the system. Right now, we’re going to clean it up. We’re having restrictions on foreign money coming in, we’re going to put on term limits, which a lot of people aren’t happy about, but we’re putting on term limits. We’re doing a lot of things to clean up the system. But everybody that works for government, they then leave government and they become a lobbyist, essentially. I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist.
Lesley Stahl: But you’re, but you’re basically saying you have to rely on them, even though you want to get rid of them?
Donald Trump: I’m saying that they know the system right now, but we’re going to phase that out. You have to phase it out. [60 Minutes]
- As reported this weekend, Trump has tapped many GOP insiders and lobbyists for the transition team. [Politico]
- “Personnel is policy,” said Republican operative Ron Kaufman, who served in President George W. Bush’s White House. [McClatchy]
- Plaintiffs proposed holding a trial for a federal class action lawsuit against Trump University next month without the president-elect, whose lawyers asked this weekend to delay it until after inauguration. [Politico]
- We are glad to see the Data Foundation and Grant Thornton published a new report on the state of open data in the United States. Sunlight was both consulted and interviewed in this report. We found much to like, but also a troubling omission on the role of journalists, which its authors acknowledged to us. [READ MORE]
- In a memorandum from the Office and Management and Budget, White House released new guidance on federal websites last week, replacing a document that had not been updated since 2004. The guidance includes accessibility, open data, and reporting and compliance for basic governance of websites and digital services. It’s good news. [FCW]
- Empowering and protecting whistleblowers will be one of the most important open government issues in the USA the years ahead. [The Intercept]
- So, too, will reform of the system the federal courts use to make legal records available. According to a new analysis, PACER is either creating an illegal surplus or it costs $135 million a year to run. [Free Law]
STATE AND LOCAL
- The administration of Vice-President elect Mike Pence, who serves as Governor of Indiana, is going to court to try to keep an email and attached white paper sent from a political ally secret. [Indianapolis Star]
- A new website enables Cleveland residents to see how much money its transit system is losing because of the re-routing of buses. Sam Allard: “Publicsquander.com, constantly ticking, currently pegs the total lost money in the $435,000 range. It links to the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, where concerned residents can send a letter to Frank Jackson. It’s unconfirmed who created the site but is thought to be an outgrowth of the Sunlight Foundation’s Transparency Camp, hosted in Cleveland last month. ” [CleveScene.com]
- The Open Government Partnership published a newsletter of open government news from around the world. What do you read to keep informed about transparency and accountability in other countries? [OGP]
- There will be a workshop on Data and Algorithmic Transparency at Columbia University on Nov. 19. [RSVP]
- The Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit will be Dec. 7-9 in Paris, France.
- What events will YOU be attending over the next six months? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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