Today in OpenGov: What can we learn from President Trump’s financial disclosures?


On Friday, the Office of Government Ethics released President Trump's most recent financial disclosure documents. While not a substitute for the President's tax returns, this disclosure sheds some light on how winning the presidency has touched his assets and should help inform the public about his various business dealings.

Read on for more on Trump's financial disclosure and all the latest open government news from around the U.S. and across the globe. 


  • Numerous outlets are digging into the President's financial disclosure documents. Among other interesting details: Despite selling most of his stocks and stepping away from day-to-day management of his business, he is still benefiting from assets worth at least $1.4 billion; The properties he has visited most during his Presidency appear to be enjoying a boost in revenue; however, overall revenues from his businesses were down about 3 percent over the period covered in his previous filings.
  • Financial Disclosures don't paint the full picture. "The financial disclosure reports list Trump’s various assets, liabilities and some income, but it is difficult to determine a person’s wealth based on their financial disclosure forms because the values are listed in vast ranges." (The Hill) This is why we will continue to push for the President to release his full tax returns. 

elsewhere in Trumpland

The Center for American Progress
  • An interactive map of the Trump family's global conflicts of interest. "And there are equally telling signs that foreign leaders have deduced that giving Trump’s businesses special treatment is the quickest way to achieve gains for their country’s agenda at the White House." (Center for American Progress) Don't forget that Sunlight is also tracking Trump's conflicts of interest on a rolling basis. 
  • Meanwhile, in Middle East feud, Trump's agenda mirrors business ties. "Now a feud has broken out among these three crucial American allies, and Mr. Trump has thrown his weight firmly behind the two countries where he has business ties, raising new concerns about the appearance of a conflict between his public role and his financial incentives." (New York Times)
  • Vice President Pence picks outside counsel for Russia investigation. "Pence has hired Richard Cullen, the chairman of McGuireWoods in Richmond and a former US attorney with extensive experience handling government investigations, according to a spokesman for Pence." (BuzzFeed)
  • President and his lawyer seem to disagree about whether or not Trump is under investigation. "President Donald Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, a member of his legal team said repeatedly Sunday morning." This despite a report in the Washington Post indicating that a probe had been widened "to also investigate whether Trump obstructed justice…" and a tweet from Trump himself that appeared to confirm the investigation. (POLITICO)
  • Will the new House Oversight Chairman use his investigative powers to probe president? "But there are signs that Gowdy, a former state and federal prosecutor who led the rancorous House probe into the 2012 Benghazi attacks, may defer those inquiries to other congressional investigations and to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III." (Washington Post)

washington watch

Georgia's 6th Congressional District
  • Inside the most expensive House race ever. "The contest [to fill a vacant House seat in the Atlanta Suburbs] now ranks as the most expensive U.S. House race in history. Including the money raised and spent leading up to April’s primary election, in which no candidate garnered a majority of the vote, roughly $60 million has been pumped into the race, according to an Issue One analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission." (Issue One)
  • Center for Public Integrity sues FEC for email correspondence with Trump team. "The lawsuit, filed Wednesday with the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, stems from the FEC’s refusal to make public emails between agency officials and the Office of Management and Budget during the initial days of President Donald Trump’s administration." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Senators on both sides of aisle concerned about opaque healthcare bill. "Both Republican and Democratic senators are expressing concerns over the lack of open process in the Senate's work on a revised ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill even as Republican leadership looks to move the bill to a vote as soon as possible." (The Hill)
  • Agencies insistence on "unnamed sources" restricts accountability. "Here’s what’s lost when people hide behind generic titles. Real accountability for people on the public payroll." (Star Tribune) Our take? Overuse of anonymous sources and "senior officials" whose agencies insist that they speak "on background" falls short of democracy at its best. When public servants don't go on the record to explain their policies and actions, transparency and accountability suffer.

around the world

Reporter and author Javier Valdez Cárdenas was shot and killed in Culiacán, Sinaloa on May 15.
  • Palestinian Authority moves to censor critics online. "The Palestinian Authority's (PA) Attorney General issued a Directive for the dozen Palestinian ISPs operating in the West Bank to block 11 websites affiliated with political rivals and critics of President Mahmoud Abbas." (Global Voices)
  • Shedding light on the growing violence against journalists in Mexico. "When gunmen shot and killed Mexican columnist, investigative reporter, and author Javier Valdez Cárdenas in Culiacán, Sinaloa on May 15, a chill went through newsrooms everywhere. Not only was he the sixth member of the press in Mexico to be assassinated in less than three months, some reporters had just assumed that someone of Valdez’s international fame and stature would be protected." (The National Security Archive)

save the dates

  • 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 28th, 10am EST: How Can Demand Driven & Bottom Up Social Accountability Tools Improve Health Services? The Experience of Rural Mozambique, Webinar. "This webinar explores how Concern Universal has managed to find the intersections in incentives and goals between government and rural communities while helping overcome some crucial gaps in health service delivery. It focuses on lessons learned through application of collaborative government/citizen’s approach. More information 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.
  • July 5, 10am EST: ICT-mediated Citizen Engagement: Voice or Chatter? Webinar. "In this webinar, IT for Change will present the results of eight empirical case studies of citizen engagement through ICTs they undertook. This research, funded by Making All Voices Count, explored in each case how new forms of participation were shaped by IT, how IT affected power relations between government and citizens, and how the interactions between different actors continuously shape governance. More information 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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