Quote of the day: "It’s in a locked cabinet in a locked room that nobody’s in. You’ll need a key to the room and the cabinet to get it. We’re in the process of turning that cabinet into a safe. We keep all the returns from every president in there." Retiring IRS commissioner John Koskinen commented on security around presidential tax returns, among many other issues, in an exit interview with POLITICO.
In today's edition, we celebrate the House's passage of important open government legislation, lawmakers call for more sunshine in Kansas, the Trump Administration discloses a report on the use of cyber vulnerabilities, and much more.
- Three significant reductions to federal government web resources and why they matter. Sunlight fellows Toly Rinberg and Andrew Bergman "took a look at three significant reductions in access to Web resources across three agencies during the Trump administration," as part of their broader project looking at changes in public access to public information. They acknowledge that federal government "websites change all the time, but the most significant classes of changes should be clearly documented so the public understands how access to information is being altered." (The Sunlight Foundation)
- The House passes evidence-based policymaking bill, including the OPEN Government Data Act. In a win for open government, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR.4174, which contains the OPEN Government Data Act, by voice vote. As we explained when expressing support for HR. 4174 earlier this week, Open government data is a pillar of 21st century good governance. Thank you to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to make public information more open & accessible to the public. We hope the Senate follows soon. Our work is far from done, but this is a milestone for open data in the USA! Our friends at the Data Coalition have more on the bill here.
- Federal Election Commission to hold hearing on online ad disclaimers in December. After receiving more than 150,000 comments related to disclosure of online political ads, the FEC will hold a hearing on the topic on December 14th.
- Who has funded the decades-long fight over campaign finance regulation in the US? Familiar faces include Koch brothers and George Soros, but it's not always so clear. "The Center for Public Integrity identified the sources of $293 million received by groups that lodged formal arguments in key campaign finance deregulation cases. It also identified $64 million in funding for groups that defended campaign finance regulations, including significant cash from liberal billionaire and Koch foil George Soros." (Center for Public Integrity)
states and cities
- Lawmakers in Kansas call for reforms following major report on state secrecy. "Kansas lawmakers from across the political spectrum said they will push to fix the state’s culture of secrecy in the wake of a Kansas City Star series that highlights stunning levels of opacity in state and local government." (Kansas City Star)
- How Los Angeles' connected leadership approach turned it into a data-driven city. "Under the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ Data Team created the Citywide Data Collaborative, a group of data liaisons across departments who oversee the collection, cleaning, and quality control of their department data, and manage their datasets on the city’s open data portal. Their work and collaboration with the Mayor’s Data Team has introduced an unprecedented approach to how Los Angeles city government handles, shares, and uses data in all of its operations." (Data-Smart City Solutions)
- New report shows little progress on transparency and accountability in police body camera policies. "On Nov. 14, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights partnered with Upturn to release a third annual review of body-worn camera policies at 75 police departments across the country. The report evaluated departments across eight criteria and found that they have budged little when it comes to ensuring that the footage collected will not contribute toward more expansive surveillance of communities or offer 'a false narrative' of events captured by the video." (Government Technology)
- Emolumental problems: Trump appears to profit from spending by Irish and Northern Irish governments. "About two weeks ago, the 20th National Golf Tourism Conference & 2017 Gala Irish Golf Awards were held at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg in Ireland. The course was bought by the Trump Organization in 2014, and this is the first time the event, hosted by the Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association Ltd, has been held at the Trump course. Among the event’s sponsors were four that are funded by the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland: Shannon Airport, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland (Tourism NI), and Tourism Ireland." (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) As Tamar Ziff notes in the CREW piece, this "This is not the first time a foreign government has directly sponsored an event at a Trump property." In September, Sunlight reported that Turkish Airlines, which is partially owned by the Turkish government, held an event at Trump's DC area golf course.
- Trump administration to disclose report on use of cyber vulnerabilities. "The Trump administration pledged Wednesday to release an annual report outlining the government’s decision-making about when it discloses newfound computer vulnerabilities to the public and when it will hoard them to hack and spy on U.S. adversaries." (NextGov)
- Judge demands transparency in fight over Trump dossier. "A federal judge assigned to a fight between a House committee and the private investigation firm behind the so-called Trump dossier complained Wednesday that too much of the legal battle has been carried out in secret. At a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, Judge Richard Leon told lawyers involved in the case that the dispute over the House Intelligence Committee’s demands for the bank records of investigative firm Fusion GPS is of major public significance and needs to be handled with greater transparency." (POLITICO) Our take? A big thumbs up emoji.
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