Today in OpenGov: Time to disclose


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That said, continue on for all of today's open government news, including revelations around Michael Flynn's loyalty to former employers, a potential Supreme Court setback for whistleblower protections, a new directory of open data standards, and more. 


Michael Flynn. Image credit: Kristyn Ulanday.
  • While working at White House, Michael Flynn pushed a proposal from a company that he had recently advised. "The week after President Trump’s inauguration, national security adviser Michael Flynn forwarded a memo written by a former business associate and told his staff to fashion it into a policy for President Trump’s approval, according to two people familiar with the exchange. The proposal — to develop a “Marshall Plan” of investment in the Middle East — was being pushed by a company that Flynn said he had advised during the 2016 campaign and transition. The firm was seeking to build nuclear power plants in the region." (Washington Post)
  • A Judge ruled in favor of President Trump's pick to temporarily run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "A U.S. District Court judge in Washington on Tuesday handed a big victory to President Donald Trump, ruling in favor of the administration in its bid to install White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." While this is likely not the end of the saga, as Victoria Guida reports, it marks a temporary end to "a chaotic series of events triggered by [former CFPB head Richard] Cordray’s abrupt resignation Friday, the day after Thanksgiving." (POLITICO)
  • Kris Kobach may have violated conflict of interest law with paid column for Breitbart. On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice regarding Kansas Secretary of State and vice chair of the president's "voter fraud" commission. According to this report by Rebecca Savransky, "CREW said Kobach is paid to write columns for Breitbart News…One column  — which Kobach later brought up during a New Hampshire meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — made claims about voter fraud in New Hampshire, according to the group." (The Hill)
  • Despite surface level tension, the tech industry is winning under the Trump administration. "The conventional wisdom about the tech industry’s relationship with Donald Trump is that it’s a street brawl, with Silicon Valley’s liberal CEOs clashing with the president on everything from immigration to climate change to transgender rights. But the reality is that Silicon Valley is getting much of what it wants." (POLITICO)

states and cities

The Idaho Capitol building. Image credit: JSquish.
  • Idaho moves to require personal financial disclosures for elected officials, candidates. "Under the new proposal – which the legislative panel recommended the full Legislature pass when it convenes in January – all candidates for elective office at the state, legislative, county or city level would have to file annual disclosures that identify: their primary employer and occupation or job title; all entities they own or for which they’re an officer; each entity that has paid them $5,000 or more in income in the past year; each entity in which they own stocks or bonds valued at more than $5,000 unless they’re managed by a third party; any boards on which they serve; and their spouse’s name, occupation and employer." (The Spokesman-Review via NFOIC)
  • Local praise for Tennessee gubernatorial candidates who shared their tax returns. David Plazas responded to Monday's roundup of Tennessee gubernatorial candidate tax returns with praise for the three candidates who shared their information, noting "when politicians who seek residents’ votes release their tax returns, they are showing voters that they are committed to transparency and accountability. This is an important measure of trust in a democratic society where we expect the people’s business to be done, well, before the people." (The Tennessean) We agree with this sentiment and have celebrated open government champions in cities, states, and nations for embracing transparency, accountability and good government ethics. We hope that the public commends elected officials and civil servants for being transparent to those that they serve, demonstrating that they are worthy of our trust. 
  • International directory of open data standards aims to help cities. GovEx "has created an international open data standards directory, aspiring to give cities a singular resource for guidance on formatting data they release to the public." (Government Technology)
  • Georgia doubles investment in cybersecurity and innovation center. "The Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta will roughly double in size next year, as the state deepens its commitment to state and federal public safety partners with a second facility focused on incubating tech startups and cybersecurity training and workforce development." (Government Technology)

washington watch

  • Supreme Court signals potential rollback of protections for corporate whistleblowers. "U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled they will narrow an anti-retaliation provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, hearing arguments in a case that could insulate publicly traded companies from some whistle-blower lawsuits." (Bloomberg)
  • How the Clinton foundation fell short of fully disclosing its donors. "A December 2008 voluntary ethics agreement the Clinton Foundation and incoming secretary of State executed with the Obama administration, before called for, disclosed all donors to the Foundation and its various initiatives, something normal charities don’t have to do. But over the years, the Clintons’ compliance fell short of their own agreement and their own proclamation that they were among the most transparent fundraisers in political history." (The Hill)
  • Three employees of the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General stole employee data, computer system as part of scheme to sell software. "Three employees in the inspector general’s office for the Department of Homeland Security stole a computer system that contained sensitive personal information of about 246,000 agency employees, according to three United States officials and a report sent to Congress last week. They planned to modify the office’s proprietary software for managing investigative and disciplinary cases so that they could market and sell it to other inspector general offices across the federal government." (The New York Times)


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