Today in OpenGov: Play to Sway
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee is slated to markup H.Res 479. which would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to provide the House of Representatives with President Trump's tax returns as well as the tax returns of each business entity that he disclosed on his Office of Government Ethics forms. We encourage you to contact the committee and urge them to pass the bill.
Read on for the rest of the day's open government news from Washington, DC and across the United States.
- "Play to sway" joins "stay to play" as favored influence strategy in Trumpland. "Dozens of lobbyists, contractors and others who make their living influencing the government pay President Trump’s companies for membership in his private golf clubs, a status that can put them in close contact with the president, a USA TODAY investigation found…The review shows that, for the first time in U.S. history, wealthy people with interests before the government have a chance for close and confidential access to the president as a result of payments that enrich him personally. It is a view of the president available to few other Americans." (USA Today)
- Trump "election fraud" commission may have violated law with use of personal email. "As part of a new legal filing in a lawsuit over President Trump’s controversial 'election integrity' commission, the Hurwitz Law Group say some members of the commission used personal email to conduct government business, possibly in violation of federal records laws." (The Verge)
- Facebook sold $150,000 in political ads to Russian linked accounts during 2016 cycle. "Facebook accounts with apparent Russian ties purchased about $150,000 in political ads aimed at American voters during key periods of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by the social networking company." Most of the ads targeted hot button political issues, while avoiding mention of specific candidates or races. (POLITICO)
- Movement on the next United States OGP National Action Plan. The federal government is seeking feedback from civil society on their 4th Open Government Partnership National Action Plan. You can participate by commenting on the draft plan on Github or sending an email to email@example.com. We'll have more to say on this later today.
- Former House IT staffer who fled to Pakistan amid criminal investigation to return to U.S. "A former House Democrat tech staffer who fled the country to Pakistan while under criminal investigation has struck a deal with federal officials to return to the U.S. and appear at an arraignment, according to court documents." (Washington Examiner)
- Disaster relief requires robust oversight to fight waste and fraud. "Congress is rightfully planning on passing legislation to provide disaster relief. However, Congress and the administration must ensure that our money is responsibly spent on assistance to communities in need rather than lining the pockets of disaster profiteers or otherwise wasted. For guidance on how to implement robust disaster aid oversight, policymakers might want to read POGO’s 2006 report on lessons from Hurricane Katrina, or the final report of Congress’s Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina." (Project on Government Oversight)
- Pentagon to limit number of journalists traveling abroad with Secretary of Defense. "The Pentagon is scaling back the number of reporters traveling with the Defense Secretary on overseas trips, and for the first time in decades not invite all three major wire services to be part of the press contingent." (Washington Examiner)
states and cities
- Police body camera footage is not considered public record in most states. Despite growing use of body camera's by police department's across the country, David Kravets reports that "when it comes to supplying the public with footage, there's a hodgepodge patchwork of state laws and local laws nationwide. And the general default is that the footage is not a public record." (Ars Technica)
- Local governments working to improve citizen engagement using new technology. A survey conducted by Governing Magazine and Living Cities found that, although "90 percent of the participants said they were using some kind of citizen engagement technology — most commonly social media — 40 percent said they need to improve on the ways they use that input." (Governing)
- Massachusetts may consider presidential tax transparency ballot initiative. "A Massachusetts ballot initiative that would require presidential candidates to release their personal income tax returns was certified on Wednesday, paving the way for its backers to begin collecting signatures for the measure to appear on the ballot. (The Hill)
Don't miss out
save the dates
- September 11th and 12th: Civic Tech Fest and 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. The agenda is up now and you can still get tickets here!
- September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
- September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.
- September 26th: Data Transparency 2017, in Washington, DC. Hosted by the Data Foundation, "Data Transparency 2017 is Washington's largest open data event, bringing together government leaders, transparency advocates, and the technology industry to explore how technology can transform government, compliance, and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here.
- September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learn more on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
- October 13th – 14th: 2017 FOI Summit, Nashville, Tennessee. "Music City USA becomes home for NFOIC, state FOI coalitions and open government advocates for the 2017 FOI Summit on Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, 2017.The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and our host, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government will convene the annual summit at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University." You can learn more and register here.
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