Today in OpenGov: Summoned


In today's edition, President Trump receives a summons, the Congressional Research Service may open up, transparency is key when regulating algorithms, Turkey cracks down on the Internet, and more. 


  • President Trump issued summons in emoluments case. "A lawsuit filed by D.C. and Maryland against President Trump over his alleged business conflicts has been expanded to include Trump in his personal capacity as a businessman, which means that a summons has been sent to perhaps the most famous address in Washington: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." (WAMU)
  • Trump set to replace National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with John Bolton. The New York Times reported the news yesterday. Bolton, a controversial figure, controls a super PAC with ties to Cambridge Analytica. Carrie Levine tells how Bolton, "the former U.N. ambassador will be forced to reckon with the fate of his political empire, which includes a super PAC that has spent heavily on the services of embattled voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • White House announces plan for grant data modernization as part of President's Management Agenda. Earlier this week we reported on the release of the President's Management Agenda. Yesterday, our friends at the Data Coalition weighed in on on one of the 14 new government-wide goals, Results Oriented Accountability for Grants, calling it "a big step forward" and characterizing it as "a plan to transform federal grant reporting from disconnected documents into open, standardized data." (Data Coalition
  • "Hush money" could end up as President Trump's biggest campaign finance problem. Eliza Newlin Carney explains that "alleged campaign-finance violations keep piling up against President Trump, but the ones that involve the paltriest sums—two payments of less than $200,000 apiece to silence women who claim affairs with Trump—may cause him the most trouble." (The American Prospect)

washington watch

A screenshot of the Congressional Research Service website.
  • Congress sends $1.3 trillion spending bill to President's desk only days after its introduction. The Washington Post cited transparency as one of the biggest losers in the bill. We tend to agree. It wasn't all bad news though. After a decades long fight, the omnibus bill includes language requiring the Library of Congress to publish Congressional Research Service reports online. Learn more via Demand Progress
  • Growing scandal unlikely to slow political ad spending on Facebook. "Political consultant Mark Jablonowski predicts that Facebook Inc. won’t lack for political ads during this year’s campaign season despite the rancor caused by Russian election meddling and a massive data leak…Facebook has grown into a colossus in campaign spending, serving up a rich bounty of intimate data that is used to target potential voters from among its online audience of more than 200 million monthly users in the U.S. Campaign spending on Facebook and other digital media will rise to an estimated $600 million this year, compared with about $250 million in 2014, the last congressional election year without a presidential contest." (Bloomberg) Our view? All that spending won't be matched by an equal amount of transparency, which is why we support the Honest Ads Act. 
  • Two Illinois Democrats found in violation of House rules, ordered to repay thousands of dollars. "The House Ethics Committee found that two Illinois Democrats violated chamber rules and must personally repay thousands of dollars for their actions…Rush and Rep. Luis Gutierrez were formally reproved by the Ethics panel for the violations, findings that were announced on Thursday by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the committee." Rush will be allowed to cover his costs with campaign cash, according to this report by John Bresnahan. (POLITICO)

states and cities

  • Transparency is key when considering how to regulate algorithms. Stephen Goldsmith and Chris Bousquet write that "cities rely on algorithms to help make decisions that affect people’s lives in meaningful ways, from assessing teacher performance to predicting the likelihood of criminal re-offense. And yet, the general public knows almost nothing about how they work…Governments need mechanisms for making sure algorithms are subject to the same scrutiny as other types of public decision-making." (CityLab)
  • Washington State moves to end use of nondisclosure agreements in harassment cases. "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Wednesday signed legislation that will make it more difficult for employers to require their employees to keep quiet about sexual harassment in the workplace, a first-of-its-kind approach in the wake of the "Me Too" movement." (The Hill)
  • Charlottesville, VA opens data on public Wi-Fi use for contest. "Thousands of people work, play, dine and socialize on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall every day — and some of them connect their phones and computers to the mall’s free Wi-Fi network…Last week, the city of Charlottesville released the mall’s Wi-Fi usage data for a contest that challenges data science professionals and enthusiasts to give insights into how people use the city’s signature public space." (Charlottesville Tomorrow)
  • Louisiana lawmakers consider a flood of open records bills, raising concern among journalists and advocates. "Lawmakers scheduled eight bills for House and Senate committee hearings today that are related to public records and public meetings. Good government advocates and lobbyists for the working press can be found on both sides of the policy proposals, but they collectively represent a much larger trend playing out at the Capitol…There are at least 12 instruments filed for the session that directly target so-called sunshine laws—and lawmakers can still request an additional five bills each be filed in their names before April 2." (Greater Baton Rouge Business Report)

around the world

  • Turkey moves to extend censorship of radio and TV to the Internet. "Turkey, already the world’s leading jailer of journalists, is squeezing what little independence is left out of its battered media. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is widening the powers of its aggressive radio and television censor to include the internet just as 81-year-old billionaire Aydin Dogan starts talks to sell Turkey’s largest private media company to a group of Erdogan loyalists, ending years of harassment by authorities." (Bloomberg)
  • The Vatican hosted a hackathon aimed at tackling some of its key concerns. "Pope Francis blessed it. Google and Microsoft backed it. Dubbed VHacks, the three-day event welcomed 120 students of different faiths from 60 universities around the world. For the students, the hackathon was a chance to brainstorm new ways of responding to issues that concern the pope: the treatment of migrants and refugees, social inclusion, and interfaith dialogue. For the Vatican, it was also a way to send a message—to students and Silicon Valley alike—that there’s a place for innovation even in an ancient Church." (The Atlantic)
  • Arrest warrant issued for former South Korean president in bribery case. "A South Korean court ordered the arrest of former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak over allegations of bribery. Lee became the second former leader of Asia’s fourth-largest economy to face jail time in just over a year. Park Geun-hye, his successor from the same conservative party, was removed from office last year after being impeached over a corruption scandal that engulfed the entire country from late 2016." (Bloomberg)


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