Today in OpenGov: How the food lobby started to turn sour


In today's edition, a food fight inside the grocery lobby, a leadership fight at the CFPB, competing to map park data in Dublin, and more. 

washington watch

Food fight! Image credit: Ian Ransley.
  • Top food lobbying group loses members amid changing tastes and consumer demands for transparency. "The splintering of the food lobby has been driven in part by an upheaval at the grocery store, where iconic brands are stagnating as millennials and moms seek healthier and more transparent products." As Helena Bottemiller Evich and Catherine Boudreau report, major industry players including Nestle and Campbell Soup Co. have decided to leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the past year. (POLITICO)
  • Broad public support for net neutrality is unlikely to sway FCC away from regulatory rollback. As Jon Brodkin reported last week, "A senior FCC official spoke with reporters about Pai's anti-net neutrality plan in a phone briefing…and explained why the FCC is not swayed by public opinion on net neutrality." (Ars Technica) In our opinion, one quote from that article paints a clear picture of how the FCC has handled transparency and accountability around the topic: "The official spoke with reporters on the condition that he not be named and that his comments can be paraphrased but not quoted directly."
  • Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) goes on record in support of Senate e-filing. The Senator stated her support "after she received a letter this month signed by 21 groups urging her to co-sponsor the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, introduced by Sens. John Tester, D-Montana, and Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi." (The Detroit News) Sunlight was a proud signatory of that letter and we are happy to see Sen. Stabenow's response. 
  • Fighting weaponized misinformation online. Cybersecurity expert Samuel Sanders Visner shares his thoughts on the best way to fight weaponized misinformation and foreign efforts to influence America's electoral process, concluding, "confidence in the United States’ democratic processes demands confidence in the way votes are collected and counted throughout the nation. In response to confirmed data breaches and social media penetration, research and development should be undertaken by public and private cybersecurity entities to give social media organizations the means to spot and characterize foreign efforts to influence, through troll farms and other means, electoral opinions, and to help halt such efforts." (NextGov)


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau building in Washington, DC. Image credit: Ted Eytan.
  • Court battle brews over temporary leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "A federal judge must now decide which of the two people holding competing claims to temporarily run the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has the actual authority to guide its oversight of American financial institutions. Leandra English, who was deputy to ex-director Richard Cordray, asked a federal judge in Washington on Sunday to declare her as the agency’s acting director and to block President Donald Trump from installing White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as interim chief." (Bloomberg)
  • Robert Meuller's investigation touches both sides of the "swamp" in D.C. "President Trump famously promised that, if elected president, he would “drain the swamp” — upending the culture in Washington that favors the well-connected. It is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III whose work seems to be sending shock waves through the capital, by exposing the lucrative work lobbyists from both parties engage in on behalf of foreign interests." (Washington Post)
  • Ethics groups stand up to keep an eye on the Trump administration. "But the president faces an aggressive cottage industry of watchdog groups that are closely tracking — and challenging — his every move. Brand new groups have launched this year, and others have expanded their missions, flush with donations from people eager to provide a check on Trump and his policies." (USA Today)
  • Trump Organization walks away from a single hotel deal, Justice Department claims move undermines Emoluments suit. "The Department of Justice said the Trump Organization’s decision on Wednesday to give up management of the Trump SoHo by year end and drop the Trump name bolsters the argument for dismissing the lawsuit, whose plaintiffs also include the nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington." (Reuters)
  • The outlook for the 2020 census is not great, putting vital data at risk. Tim Fernholz weighs in on President Trump's rumored pick for the top operational job at the Census Bureau, among other issues threatening the 2020 count. He argues, "running a shoddy survey, out of political opportunism or simple incompetence, would compromise one of the great advantages of the United States: Trusted data about who Americans are, how they work, and where they live." (Quartz)

around the world

  • Competition aims to open up parks facilities information in Dublin. "Ever wondered if there are tennis courts or exercise machines in the parks near you? What about playgrounds or skate parks or even historical monuments? A four week competition, Pin it in the Parks, encourages citizens to share information on the facilities available in parks near them in the city of Dublin. By using the RouteToPA android app, the user will have the ability to take photos of facilities they encounter and provide its exact location, hence making this information available to everyone." (Open Knowledge)
  • Iceland's experiment in digital democracy goes global. Joshua Jacobs tells the story of Your Priorities, software created by two programmers in Iceland "that allows citizens to suggest laws, policies and budget measures, which can then be voted up or down by other users." After a successful run in Reykjavik, the program "has also been tested in other countries, including Estonia, Australia, Scotland, Wales, Norway and Malta. In Estonia, seven proposals have become law, including one limiting donations from companies to political parties and another that requires the national parliament to debate any proposal with more than 1,000 votes." (Financial Times)
  • Twitter reports service disruptions amid violent clashes in Pakistan. "Twitter said Saturday that some of its users had experienced disrupted service in Pakistan after reports that the government blocked social media sites in the country amid violent clashes between police and protesters near the capital of Islamabad." (The Hill

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