Today in OpenGov: Americans now view USA & presidency as more corrupt


In today's edition, Americans say that corruption is up over the past year, we prepare for this week's net neutrality repeal vote, more last minute money hits the Alabama Senate election, Vice News shares a huge new trove of gun violence data, and more.  

corruption in the usa

This morning, Transparency International released the results of a new survey, US Corruption Barometer 2017. The biggest takeaway? A clear majority of Americans feels like corruption is worse a year in to the Trump administration, with a big jump in how corrupt they view the office of the presidency. Some other key findings include:

  • 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36 per cent in 2016. 
  • Almost 7 out of 10 people believe the government is failing to fight corruption, up from half in 2016.
  • Close to a third of African-Americans surveyed see the police as highly corrupt, compared to a fifth across the survey overall.
  • 55% gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31 per cent in 2016.
  • On a slightly more positive note, 74% said ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

We'll be at the National Press Club this morning to discuss the results. 

nothing but net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to repeal net neutrality rules on Thursday. We've joined with more than 30 other advocates for press freedom, journalism, free expression, and open government in urging the FCC to keep strong net neutrality rules. As the vote nears, there is plenty of news and opinion to consider:

  • FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that any vote should be delayed until comment fraud is investigated and public hearings are held. "In light of the lack of integrity in our record, I also have called for the FCC to do something simple: It should get out from behind its computers and desks and hold public hearings on the changes it has proposed. This idea is not new or radical. It has been done on this issue by both Republican and Democratic administrations in the past. Failure to do so here is tantamount to accepting fraud in this process and using it to justify the rollback of net neutrality rules. For the American people a rush vote like this, on a questionable record, will look and feel illegitimate. They should demand a better process and a better result." Read the whole piece in Wired.
  • The FCC and the Federal Trade Commission have a plan to hold Internet Service Providers to their promises not to behave badly. "After the repeal, there won't be any rules preventing ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet traffic. ISPs will also be allowed to charge websites and online services for faster and more reliable network access. In short, ISPs will be free to do whatever they want—unless they make specific promises to avoid engaging in specific types of anti-competitive or anti-consumer behavior. When companies make promises and break them, the FTC can punish them for deceiving consumers." (Ars Technica)
  • Since 1989 ISPs have given over $100 million to Members of Congress. Here's how that money is spread out. T.C. Sottek breaks down "contributions to individual members of Congress, and those members’ leadership PACs, from 1989 to the present day. This money came from the telecommunication industry’s own PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. This data was prepared for The Verge by The Center for Responsive Politics: an independent, non-partisan nonprofit research group that tracks money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy." (The Verge)

washington watch

  • Donors behind super PAC backing Doug Jones (D) in the Alabama Senate election exposed. "A mystery super PAC backing Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama is controlled by a pair of groups closely aligned with the national Democratic Party, even as the candidate strives to dissociate himself from Washington interests. Highway 31, which dropped more than $4.1 million in support of Jones and against Roy Moore ahead of Tuesday's Senate special election, is a joint project of two of the largest national Democratic super PACs — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action — along with a group of Alabama Democrats, multiple senior officials familiar with the arrangement told POLITICO." (POLITICO)
  • Meanwhile, Roy Moore (R) leaned heavily on out of state cash as his campaign became mired in controversy. "The Republican candidate for Alabama’s Senate seat, Roy Moore, raised three times more in big-dollar donations from donors outside his state than from those within Alabama, according to newly released Federal Election Commission data that covers Oct. 1 through Nov. 22" (Roll Call)
  • Charles Koch and Silicon Valley make unlikely allies in fight against regulation of the tech industry. "The tech industry has found a surprising new ally in its effort to shape public policy in Washington: the 82-year-old libertarian billionaire Charles Koch…And despite their ideological distance on issues like the Paris climate accord, the Koch groups and left-leaning Silicon Valley are working together to advance the argument that innovation is most likely to flourish when legislators and regulators leave it alone." (POLITICO)
  • Health and Human Service's opioid crisis code-a-thon opened data, brought change to the agency, and tackled tough problems. "The Department of Health and Human Services’ opioid crisis code-a-thon was a big deal. The first-of-its-kind event brought more than 300 citizen coders from around the country physically into the agency. It led to the opening of nearly 70 datasets from HHS, other federal agencies, state and local partners and the private sector." (FedScoop
  • We joined a broad coalition in support of the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act. The letter explains, "ACMRA solves a significant problem: it establishes a central repository for agency reports submitted to Congress and tracks whether agencies have submitted the reports. Currently, congressional staff often are unaware of or have difficulty finding agency reports to Congress, especially when they are submitted to another committee or chamber. Reports often are lost or duplicated. In addition, while the reports could be made available to the public, they can be hard to find online and the FOIA request process is slow and costly." Learn more at R Street.

states and cities

Vice News' open data on police shootings includes a bulk download as well as data for individual police departments.
  • Exclusive data analysis shows that police shootings happen more than twice as often as previously thought. "VICE News examined both fatal and nonfatal incidents to determine that cops in the 50 largest local departments shot at least 3,631 people from 2010 through 2016. That’s more than 500 people a year. On more than 700 other occasions, police fired at citizens and missed. Two-thirds of the people cops fired at survived." (Vice News) Vice also released all the data it collected in an open format for others to explore. Get the data here.
  • Governors and federal agencies block nearly 1,300 Twitter and Facebook accounts. "In August, ProPublica filed public-records requests with every governor and 22 federal agencies, asking for lists of everyone blocked on their official Facebook and Twitter accounts. The responses we’ve received so far show that governors and agencies across the country are blocking at least 1,298 accounts. More than half of those — 652 accounts — are blocked by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican." (ProPublica)
  • Drug companies sue California over price transparency law. "Drug companies are suing the state of California over a recently enacted law that would require manufacturers to give advance notice before significantly raising prices. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry's leading lobby group, filed a complaint late Friday seeking to block the law, which supporters say is one of the most comprehensive drug transparency measures in the country." (The Hill)
  • New York governor should sign bill that would improve the state's public records law. The New York Times editorial board argues that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) can "look like a champion for government transparency" by signing a "bill awaiting the governor’s signature would remove one of the biggest obstacles facing those who are wrongly denied documents they have requested under New York’s open-records law — the cost of hiring a lawyer to fight that denial in court." (New York Times) We agree with the editorial board, along with groups like the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reinvent Albany, the American Society of News Editors, and BetaNYC. Governor Cuomo should sign this bill into law. 


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