Today in OpenGov: This Week in Corruption


Today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, & analysis, including more on President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest…


State of the states

“Big Data” is a buzzword, but applying data to improve communities is real, as this new article by Brett Goldstein explores. “Data analytics should not be about getting a write-up in the press, it should be about making the hard, nitty-gritty work of government more efficient. Simple analysis can drive tremendous impact in government. People want to see their tax dollars spent more wisely, and that starts with analyzing the data we have now with techniques that are proven and well-established.”

The trend in local governments towards more accessible and higher quality data can make it easier for municipalities to perform low-effort, high-impact analysis on their operations, as illustrated here. (Data-Smart City Solutions)

  • Marin County, California is the latest local government to embrace open data by working with Socrata to launch an open data portal “designed to make county budget information and public health and safety statistics more accessible.” (Government Technology)
  • San Francisco is in the market for a new Chief Information Officer. (GovFresh)

your daily dose of trump

Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced a “resolution of inquiry” aimed at forcing “disclosure of President Donald Trump’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest” but the GOP is unlikely to let the plan anywhere near the House floor.

“Seeking to avoid a full House vote on the so-called ‘resolution of inquiry’ — a roll call that would be particularly embarrassing and divisive for the right — Republicans will send proposal by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to the House Judiciary Committee for a panel vote on Tuesday, two Democratic sources said. The GOP-controlled committee is expected to kill the resolution.” (POLITICO)

  • “Sen. Susan Collins said she thinks the Intelligence Committee could subpoena President Donald Trump’s tax records as part of its investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election if that’s where the evidence leads.” She also expressed plans to ask the Committee to call former national security adviser Michael Flynn to testify. (Roll Call)
  • Despite his rhetoric on the campaign trail, President Trump has tapped numerous Wall executives for jobs in his administration and moved to roll back regulations opposed by the financial industry. Democrats are reportedly aiming to use this contradiction to their political advantage. (Washington Post)
  • After a decade long fight President Trump was granted a trademark for his name in China. The timing of the news, coming shortly after the President signaled his commitment to the ‘One China Policy’ sparked “speculation about conflicts of interest. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, for instance, wasted little time in declaring the new trademark unconstitutional.” However, the story is a little more complicated than it may appear at first glance. (The Atlantic)

This week in corruption

The GovLab shared a new paper by Carlos Santiso and Ben Roseth published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The paper finds that “Open data can put vast quantities of information into the hands of countless watchdogs and whistleblowers. Big data can turn that information into insight, making corruption easier to identify, trace, and predict.” Analytics represent the key to driving data driven anti-corruption efforts. 
  • Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley is embroiled in a controversy involving explicit conversations, misused funds, sudden dismissals and more. Now it looks like his recent appointment to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate may land him in more hot water. Luther Strange, former Alabama Attorney General and newly minted United States Senator, spent months in charge of the investigation into the governor’s conduct and many view Strange’s appointment as an attempt to undermine the inquiry. (New York Times)
  • “Hong Kong’s former chief executive, Donald Tsang, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for misconduct in office…” becoming the first former leader of Hong Kong to ever be convicted of a crime. (Bloomberg)

Thursday’s leaks

  • “Billionaire Peter Thiel’s company Palantir helped support the National Security Agency’s controversial spy program XKeyscore, according to a report in The Intercept citing previously undisclosed documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.” Thiel has been a close supporter and adviser of President Trump, breaking from many of his Silicon Valley peers. (The Hill)
  • The Center for Public Integrity relies on “concerned citizens to lead us to stories of waste, fraud, abuse, corruption and malfeasance of all kinds.” This post details a couple of secure ways to get in touch with particularly sensitive materials.


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