Today in OpenGov: Memorial Day, a new, POTUS & the press, Connecticut considers limiting dark money…


This Memorial Day, we remember the men and women who gave their lives to support and defend the freedoms enumerated in our Constitution, including access to information in our government. May their sacrifice and service be honored across the nation today as families and friends gather to reflect and reconnect.


states and cities

Memorial Day in Southington, Connecticut, 1942. The Library of Congress.
  • Connecticut considers dark money reforms. The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill that "attempts to ban dark money by prohibiting Connecticut independent expenditure groups from accepting contributions from other entities whose major funding sources are not public. It would cap contributions from a single source to independent expenditure groups to an aggregate of $70,000 in a calendar year." Republicans — the body's minority party — criticized the bill for not going far enough to close certain loopholes. (The CT Mirror)
  • Texas legislature misses opportunity to strengthen diminished public records laws as legislative session closes. "As the 85th Legislature draws to a close, hopes have been extinguished for major legislation that would have reversed the impact of two court decisions that limit open records access for Texans." (My San Antonio)


  • Trump avoids press for entire trip abroad before lashing out on Twitter. "Donald Trump lashed out at the “fake news” media in a series of Twitter messages on Sunday after wrapping up his first foreign trip as president — a nine-day excursion from Saudi Arabia to Sicily — without once holding a news conference." (Bloomberg)
  • White House to post ethics waivers requested by Office of Government Ethics. "The White House is preparing to post to its website information about waivers it has granted to ex-lobbyists working in the president’s office. Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says the information will be available before the Thursday deadline set by the Office of Government Ethics." Other agencies are also expected to publish their wavers. (Associated Press)
  • Trump picks veteran prosecutor and Hill aide to take reigns at Office of Special Counsel. "The White House on Friday announced the nomination of career prosecutor and veteran Capitol Hill staffer Henry Kerner to lead the Office of Special Counsel, the independent agency that combats prohibited personnel practices and retaliation against whistleblowers governmentwide." (Government Executive)
  • Record preservation techniques will play a prominent part in Russia probe. "Now that Trump’s current and former aides and allies officially know a probe exists, they’re responsible for preserving all available information that might be relevant. That’s a task complicated by the rise of auto-delete apps like Confide, Signal and WhatsApp, as well as the move his campaign staffers have made into the White House." An additional complication; Trump's election campaign was under no legal obligation to preserve documents.  (POLITICO)
  • Trump plan to privatize infrastructure could cause ethics conflict for adviser Cohn. "President Donald Trump's administration this week touted an infrastructure plan that would sell off public assets to private financial firms. Left unsaid in the White House promotional materials was any mention that the Trump aide who is overseeing the initiative comes from a Wall Street firm that says it is seeking to buy up the very same kind of assets the Trump administration plans to sell off." (International Business Times)
  • Last week, a candidate for Congress assaulted a journalist without electoral consequence or censure from the President of the United States. We crossed a Rubicon in American democracy. (Sunlight Foundation)

around the world

Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and the authorities appear to lack political will to solve the problem. "Mexico’s press is caught in a deadly cycle of violence and impunity, with journalists in Veracruz state at particular risk of kidnap and murder. Despite authorities appointing a special prosecutor to investigate crimes against freedom of expression and establishing a protection mechanism for journalists, a lack of political will to end impunity exposes Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists." (Committee to Protect Journalists)
  • When Macedonian journalists are attacked the authorities are slow to respond. "Macedonian authorities take their time processing the criminal cases of attacks on journalists, in a pattern contributing to the atmosphere of impunity and intimidation." (Global Voices)
  • European Parliament's plan for $2 million "house of citizens" draws criticism. "…critics say that, in practice, the house will function as a private club for MEPs and lobbyists because rooms at the venue will be “suitable for the organization of meetings and events involving a small number of participants,” and will be booked through the Parliament’s central IT system." (POLITICO)

in other news

  • New FEC website aims to boost campaign finance transparency with better design, data. "Built in conjunction with General Services Administration office 18F, the updated site presents a striking contrast from the previous version, which grew organically and erratically — and often made life difficult for visitors trying to access campaign finance information." (FedScoop)
  • It's about ethics in Silicon Valley. "You often hear the adage that law can’t keep up with technology. What about ethics? Ethics, too, is deliberative, and new norms take some time to develop; but an initial ethical analysis of a new development or practice can happen fairly quickly. Many technologists, however, are not encouraged to conduct that analysis, even superficially. They are not even taught to spot an ethical issue—and some (though certainly not all) seem surprised when backlash ensues against some of their creations." (The Atlantic)
  • Agencies struggle to move beyond Social Security Numbers for identification. "While the numbers serve as a unique identifier for Americans, the system was never intended to be used as a proxy ID, and their widespread use potentially exposes citizens to risks of identity theft and financial fraud." (Federal Computer Week)

save the dates

Committee on House Administration
  • June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. "The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen." Check out the panels and Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
  • June 12th through 14th: Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton, Canada. "The Canadian Open Data Summit (CODS) is an annual event where the most pressing challenges facing the open data and open government communities are addressed on a national scale." Learn more here.
  • June 27th: Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington, DC. "The Legislative Data and Transparency Conference 2017 (#LDTC17), hosted by the Committee on House Administration, will take place on Tuesday, June 27, 2017in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The #LDTC17 brings individuals from Legislative Branch agencies together with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology well and how they can use it better in the future." Learn more here.
  • June 29th: DATA Act Summit 2017 in Washington, DC. "The fourth annual DATA Act Summit, hosted by the Data Coalition and Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together supporters of the open data transformation from across government and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here.


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