Today in OpenGov: 150,000+ comments to FEC call for sunshine


In today's edition, the Federal Election Commission extends its online ad disclosure comments for a few more days, Tallahassee, Florida rules in favor of transparency, the U.S. sanctions Venezuela, a member of President Trump's "voter fraud" commission files suit, and more.  

washington watch

Walter Shaub (center) joined Sunlight's Executive Director John Wonderlich (right) and Deputy Director Alex Howard (left) to conduct some "White House Oversight" earlier this week. Yesterday he presented his reform proposals to Congressional leaders. 
  • Deadline to tell the Federal Election Commission why you support sunshine for online political ads extended through the weekend. Yesterday, we urged you to submit a comment to the FEC in support of rules on disclaimers on certain communications made over the Internet. It turns out that the FEC submission form was down yesterday. Luckily, due to the downtime, the FEC has decided to extend the comment period through Monday. Over 150,000 comments have already been filed but it's not too late to add your voice! 
  • Google submitted a comment supporting clearer rules around ad disclosure. "In a filing submitted to the FEC, the internet giant argued that advertisers and online platforms could use clearer regulations for what information needs to be disclosed on political ads and what types of ads qualify for the disclosures." The company also urged the FEC to remember their previous arguments around how space constraints in online ads should interact with disclosure. (The Hill)
  • OPEN Government Data Act removed from NDAA, but is included in new legislation sponsored by House Speaker Paul Ryan. The OPEN Government Data Act was removed from the National Defense Authorization Act according to this report by NextGov. Despite this setback, we're hopeful that the legislation is still well on its way to becoming the law of the land. An updated version of the open data bill is a core piece of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, introduced last week by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The Data Coalition has more on that bill's prospects. 
  • Ex-ethics chief Walter Shaub outlines 12 proposals to strengthen the Office of Government Ethics. "Shaub, now the senior director for ethics at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and met with them Thursday morning to recommend more than a dozen legislative proposals to strengthen OGE." (POLITICO)
  • Getting into politics and want to delay disclosing your donors? Keep "exploring" your options for as long as possible. Simone Pathé explores the murky rules governing "exploratory committees" through the lens of "the Montana Senate race, where Republican candidate Russell Fagg won’t have to disclose any of the money he’s raised until January — seven months after he formed his exploratory committee for Senate this summer." (Roll Call)

states and cities

Oliver Wise, director of the office of performance and accountability, speaks on day two of the Summit on Data-Smart Government at Harvard University. Image via Government Technology.
  • City Chief Data Officers take center stage at the Summit on Data-Smart Government. "More than 20 municipal governments in the United States now have CDOs, and more join the list each year. This event was actually hosted in part by the Civic Analytics Network (CAN), a group of CDOs from major American cities, who came together for a day and a half of closed collaborative discussions before the public-facing panels. A prevailing theme throughout the second day was that municipal chief data officers and the work they do is rapidly evolving, doing so in a way that is of increasing interest to folks outside of city halls." (Government Technology)
  • Sunlight is in Madison, Wisconsin for two weeks. Our partners at Reboot help explain why. "In collaboration with the Sunlight Foundation and the City of Madison, Wisconsin, Reboot is conducting research and workshops this week with local organizations to spark ideas for how open data might support their work—and provide a useful case study for cities everywhere." (Reboot)
  • Tallahassee, Florida decides in favor of transparency for documents tied to corruption investigation. "The Tallahassee City Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to make available for free all public records the city has provided to a federal grand jury in connection with an ongoing public corruption investigation." (Tallahassee Democrat via NFOIC)

around the world

  • The need to consider politics when costing open government reforms. Alan Hudson, Executive Director of Global Integrity, reflects on how to make decisions around investing in open government, writing "there is no doubt that information about costs — and still more, impacts and pathways to those impacts — can be helpful inputs into decisions about whether and how to invest in opening government. There are however, some significant challenges in translating costings across contexts for investments that deal with issues such as governance that are, at their heart, political issues whose dynamics may vary greatly by context." (Global Integrity)
  • British minister resigns following failure to disclose meetings. "Britain’s International Development Secretary Priti Patel resigned on Wednesday amid reports Prime Minister Theresa May was set to sack her, becoming the second minister to leave the Cabinet within a week. Patel came under fire over reports that she had held meetings with Israeli officials without informing May or Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in advance." (POLITICO)
  • U.S. puts new sanctions on Venezuelan officials following disputed elections. "The Trump administration slapped sanctions on 10 Venezuelan officials Thursday on allegations of corruption and rights violations after President Nicolas Maduro’s candidates swept nationwide state governor elections last month." (Bloomberg)


Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. Image credit Aesylves
  • President Trump's "voter fraud" commission sued by one of its members. "President Donald Trump's beleaguered voter-fraud commission was hit with a new federal lawsuit Thursday, but this time from an unusual source: one of the panel's own members. Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the 11-member board, filed a suit claiming that he's being denied access to the commission's records and effectively frozen out of its activities." (POLITICO)
  • Major Trump booster Roger Stone is crowdfunding his legal defense. "Roger Stone, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser to President Trump, is reportedly asking for the public’s help in covering his legal bills associated with ongoing investigations into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election." (The Hill)
  • Tax break for golf-course owners, which benefits President Trump, looks likely to survive in Congressional tax reform plans. "While Republicans are eliminating many write-offs, the House version of the bill allows golf-course owners to claim deductions for promising never to build on their links. The Trump Organization, which owns a dozen courses in the U.S., has taken advantage of the break in the past, using a law that’s supposed to help preserve open space. The golf deduction is just one example of how Trump businesses would benefit under the House Republican plan." (Bloomberg)


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