Today in OpenGov: Lobbyists swarm to DC swamp to dine on tax blueprint


In today's edition, we continue to spread the word on Tactical Data Engagement, lobbyists are making moves in Washington, HHS Secretary Tom Price continues his bumpy ride, and much more. 

states and cities

  • Time to get tactical about open data. Stephen Larrick explained the next step in the open data story; action. Local "leaders must use open government data to empower the people making direct, tangible changes in their communities — both inside and outside of government. Every member of a community should look for better answers to the basic question: How can open data make their work more effective? How can greater public access to public information help expand upon their successes and bring them to other communities?" (StateScoop) Check out our Tactical Data Engagement Guide to learn more. 
  • South Carolina blogger avoids jail time for refusing to reveal his sources. "South Carolina Circuit Court Judge William Keesley ruled this week that political blogger Will Folks will not go to jail for defying a court order to reveal unnamed sources in a libel case, a decision some see as important for reporters seeking to protect confidential sources in the state." (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • Precinct-level election results from the past 16 years as open data. Colin Wood talked to Derek Willis about the Open Elections project that is "close to completing a data set of nationwide precinct-level elections results." (StateScoop)
  • Akron, Ohio embraces police body cameras for accountability. According to this report by Amanda Garrett, Akron Mayor Dan "Horrigan said he hoped the cameras would both improve citizen safety by recording important evidence and improve transparency and accountability." (Government Technology)

washington watch

  • This PAC is going to support candidates who oppose corporate PAC money. "Four House Democratic challengers are pledging not to accept corporate PAC money in their campaigns, earning them the endorsement of the End Citizens United PAC…The PAC is named after Citizens United v. FEC — the 2010 Supreme Court decision that has allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on politics — and it backs candidates who want to overhaul campaign finance laws." (The Hill)
  • Sunlight joined a bipartisan coalition against over-broad Congressional secrecy. The groups wrote a letter to House leadership, urging them "to consider the consequences of expanding categories of records not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)." Read the full letter at the Project on Government Oversight.
  • Lobbyists preparing defense as Congress comes to the line on tax reform. "The tax blueprint released by the 'Big Six' Republican negotiators on Wednesday promised to hack the corporate rate down to 20 percent but included few details about which tax breaks would be eliminated to pay for their plan. So lobbyists are preparing for a flurry of business owners flying to Washington, TV ads, grass-roots campaigns and shoe-leather lobbying to defend their most cherished tax breaks." (POLITICO)
  • Industry gains influence at EPA under Pruitt. "Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to address several top priorities of the energy, agriculture and automotive sectors and has been meeting frequently with industry representatives, according to his schedules. He has also chosen people with close industry ties for important positions." (The Hill)


  • Price is trending downward as Trump expresses displeasure. "President Donald Trump and his top aides are fuming over Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of expensive private jets, with some advisers privately calling for Price’s ouster." (POLITICO) Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee has opened a bipartisan probe into the travel habits of Trump political appointees. (Government Executive)
  • Trump's deleted Tweets raise potentially thorny legal questions. "President Donald Trump’s prolific Twitter feeds may be lifelines to his political base, but they remain an ongoing legal liability due to dozens of deletions." Darren Samuelsohn digs into the issue, which revolves around how well the President's social media missives are being archived. (POLITICO)
  • Is Facebook avoiding expert help while responding to Russian meddling? "There’s a crop of experts in Washington, DC with decades of experience in running campaigns and writing legislation, who are trying to keep America’s elections free and fair…As Facebook grapples with how Russia may have used its platform to influence the US election, however, it hasn’t reached out to a single one of these organizations…" (Quartz) We hope Facebook considers working with groups like Sunlight, Democracy 21, Issue One, the Center for Responsive Politics, the Campaign Legal Center, the Brennan Center, and more who are thinking deeply about how to keep our elections free, fair, and transparent. 
  • BuzzFeed ups pressure on Feds for details about "Trump Dossier". Josh Gerstein explains that "Lawyers for the online news outlet are asking a federal court in Washington to force the Justice Department, the FBI and the director of national intelligence, as well as former FBI Director James Comey and former director of national intelligence James Clapper to answer a series of questions about what officials had done in connection with the dossier as of the time BuzzFeed published it Jan. 10." (POLITICO)

save the dates

  • September 28th – 30th: CityCampNC, Raleigh, North Carolina. "CityCampNC, part of NC Open Pass, is an annual event that brings citizens, public servants, academia, and businesses together to openly innovate and improve our communities in partnership with government." This year, Sunlight's Open Cities Director Stephen Larrick will be giving the keynote address at CityCampNC. Learn more and register to attend here
  • 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.
  • November 7th and 8th: The Harvard Summit on Data-Smart Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The "first-ever Harvard Summit on Data-Smart Government [is] presented by the Civic Analytics Network (CAN), a peer group of leading Chief Data Officers from America’s largest cities working to advance the use of data analytics in municipal government. At the Summit, you will learn about the ways data is reshaping how cities across the country work and hear from expert speakers including CAN Director Stephen Goldsmith, author of The Responsive City and Director of Harvard’s Innovations in Government program. Conference participants will be able to take part in training and workshops to gather practical knowledge about how to transform city services and government through the use of data and attend sessions on topics including how cities can leverage data for public safety, mobility, inspections, and more." You can learn more and register here, note that registration closes on October 6th.
  • November 17th – 19th: Data 4 Black Lives, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Community members, organizers, academics, technologists, educators, artists, policy makers, and public servants will come together for the inaugural Data for Black Lives conference at the MIT Media Lab. Learn more, check out some of the conference panels, and register to attend right here


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