Today in OpenGov: What’s the matter with Kansas?


In today's edition, the Kansas City Star investigates Kansas' state of secrecy, WikiLeaks slides into Donald Trump Jr.'s DMs, Facebook asks for flexibility in political ad transparency, and more. 

states and cities

  • What's the matter with Kansas? Its government is one of the most secretive in the nation. That's what the Kansas City star concluded after a months-long investigation which found that Kansas's government "secrecy permeates nearly every aspect of service…From the governor’s office to state agencies, from police departments to business relationships to health care, on the floors of the House and Senate, a veil has descended over the years and through administrations on both sides of the political aisle." (Kansas City Star) The series includes deeper looks into Kansas' legislative secrecy and tight grip on police body camera footage.
  • Illinois switches to open source open data portal, expects to save $1.2 million. "The State of Illinois is anticipating $1.2 million in cost savings within the next five years following the launch of a new open data portal, technology officials announced Thursday. The Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology has launched a new open data portal powered by open source project CKAN that the state says will provide both greater transparency of government operations and support cost savings through the state's broader digital transformation initiatives." (StateScoop)
  • Louisville, Kentucky and other cities partner with WAZE to make better transportation decisions. "The free, crowd-sourced navigation app offers constant traffic information to drivers as they head through town. But cities like Lousiville, Ky., have also started partnering with the company to capitalize on its wealth of daily transportation data. And from this data officials can pinpoint areas of congestion, as well as analyzing modifications to the roadway system, like lane reductions or traffic signal changes." (Government Technology)
  • Nevada Supreme Court weighing case involving use of private communications by public officials to conduct business. "Emails and cell phone communications from Lyon County commissioners’ personal accounts and devices could become publicly available information if the Nevada Supreme Court determines they are public information under Nevada’s Public Records Act." (Reno Gazette Journal via NFOIC)


A tweet posted by Donald Trump Jr. days after WikiLeaks sent him the link in a Direct Message. 
  • How WikiLeaks slid into Donald Trump Jr.'s Direct Messages during the 2016 election. "The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States." Donald Trump Jr. had previously turned the documents over to Congressional investigators. (The Atlantic)
  • Controversial judicial nominee failed to disclose that he's married to the White House counsel's chief of staff. "One of President Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees did not disclose on publicly available congressional documents that he is married to a senior lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office." (New York Times)
  • The Justice Department responded to Rep. Goodlatte’s request to investigate assertions President Trump has made about the actions of Secretary Hillary Clinton. The letter stating that senior officials would look into the issues raised and act if the facts warranted it. The letter is raising its own concern: that the department could be used against the former political opponent of the president. Josh Gerstein has more at POLITICO. You can read the DoJ letter to Rep. Goodlatte here.
  • Over his first 298 days in office President Donald Trump has made 1,628 false or misleading claims. "The total now stands at 1,628 claims in 298 days, or an average of 5.5 claims a day. That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office," according to Glenn Kessler, Meg Kelly, and Nicole Lewis in an update on their "year-long project analyzing, categorizing and tracking every false or misleading claim by President Trump…" (Washington Post)

washington watch

  • In comments to the Federal Election Commission, Facebook asks for flexibility in how it discloses its online political advertisers. "Facebook says that it supports the government’s push to further regulate election ads on digital platforms, but qualifies that it wants flexible rules. The company explained in comments it sent to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that new regulations should give 'advertisers flexibility to meet their disclaimer obligations in innovative ways that take full advantage of the technological advance.'" (The Hill)
  • Co-chairs of Evidence-Based Policy Commission urge Congress to pass legislation. Katharine G. Abraham and Ron Haskins write in support of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act, recently introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-OH) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). They argue "Regardless of their politics, the American people want a government that operates effectively and transparently. The federal government spends billions on programs, yet often lacks the evidence needed to determine whether these programs are working as intended or how they could be improved. Evidence-based policymaking  — making better use of data and rigorous program evaluation to inform government decision-making —holds the key to driving government programs to be more effective." (Roll Call)
  • The Department of Health and Human Services' effort to boost cybersecurity is struggling amid ethics probe. "A fledgling HHS initiative to protect the nation’s health care system from cyberattack has been paralyzed by the removal of its two top officials amid allegations of favors and ethical improprieties."  (POLITICO)
  • SEC Inspector General under fire for alleged whistleblower retaliation. Jean Eaglesham reports the "watchdog for the Securities and Exchange Commission, who encourages staff at the top securities regulator to blow the whistle on misconduct and fraud, is himself the subject of complaints by several whistleblowers." (Wall Street Journal)


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