In today's edition, President Trump plans an announcement, agency watchdogs have some bite, we say farewell to a colleague, Ugandans protest a social media tax, and more.
- President Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court pick live on TV tonight. (NPR) Meanwhile, political groups are already spending big in key states to try and influence the confirmation process. (Roll Call)
- In Florida's Palm Beach County, most Trump Foundation donations went to organizations who hosted expensive events at Mar-a-Lago. "Nearly all of the $706,000 in donations made by the Donald J. Trump Foundation in Palm Beach County since 2008 went to charities that hosted lavish fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago — the president’s highest-profile business in the county. While the timing and frequency of the donations suggest charities that fete at Mar-a-Lago — especially those that return after fundraising at other venues — are rewarded for their loyalty, several local charities said the donations were not a quid pro quo or a reward for doing business with Trump." (Palm Beach Post)
- This website is suing the NYPD for information on the Trump family's gun permits. "In January, Ellen Ioanes, FOIA reporter for The Daily Dot, filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the NYPD. Her editor at The Daily Dot, a digital media company covering Internet culture, was looking for Donald Trump’s application for a concealed carry permit, as well as those of his sons Donald Jr. and Eric…The NYPD, which often takes months or even years to fulfill FOIL requests, sent Ioanes a form-letter denial saying that disclosing the documents would constitute an 'unwarranted invasion of privacy.' A perfunctory answer to The Daily Dot’s subsequent appeal added that the documents fell outside FOIL law and would endanger the Trumps’ 'life and safety.' The Daily Dot filed suit in New York County Supreme Court to force the NYPD to release copies of the Trumps’ application documents." (Columbia Journalism Review)
- This Week in Conflicts: Saying goodbye to Scott Pruitt, Trump family photo royalties, potential consumer protection conflicts, and more. Lynn Walsh checked in with her weekly roundup of Trump administration conflicts of interest, including "the first lady made at least $100,000 in royalties from photos of the Trump family, a look at the businesses tied to the new head of the nation’s consumer protection bureau and Environmental Protection Agency Chief, Scott Pruitt, resigns." (Sunlight Foundation)
states and cities
- Sunlight's Open Cities team is entering a new era. Outgoing Open Cities director Stephen Larrick reflected on his time at Sunlight. "…I’ve become known for being willing to share (or perhaps overshare) details about my life openly and honestly with my colleagues. This tendency eventually gave rise to the only-half-in-jest, alter-ego/verbal hashtag: #OpenStephen. So, in the true spirit of #OpenStephen it’s time for some personal and professional transparency. Today I’m sharing that after three years in Washington, DC, my wife Sarah and I have moved to New York City, and as part of that move, I’m leaving my role as Open Cities Director at the Sunlight Foundation. My official last day will be July 13th—my three year anniversary with Sunlight to the day. Leaving Sunlight is bittersweet, but it’s time for me to take on new challenges in a new city, and with a strong foundation and promising direction, the Open Cities team I’m proud to have built is ready for new leadership." Stephen is passing the torch to our colleague Katya Abazajian who, as he put it, "will do a terrific job taking over my role as Open Cities Director." Read Stephen's entire note on the Sunlight Blog.
- On Friday, an Ohio newspaper received a threatening letter containing an unknown substance. "A threatening letter containing an unknown substance was mailed to a newspaper office in Ohio on Thursday, a week after a gunman opened fire and killed five people at a newspaper in Maryland. The Circleville Police Department said in said in a statement Friday that officers were called to the Circleville Herald the day before regarding a suspicious letter." (The Hill)
- Florida met its data inventory deadline, but has a lot more work to do. "Officials in Florida have finished the first stage of cataloging state data streams on time, and though work is already underway on subsequent phases, the state’s top data official said the process will be “ongoing” as agencies gain a deeper awareness of the information they possess and work to leverage it. Florida’s Chief Data Officer Burt Walsh told Government Technology that officials were able to meet a June 30 deadline set by the Legislature on inventorying the state’s numerous data sets. But what has been sought from agencies around the state, and chiefly compiled thus far, is the metadata about that data — rather than the actual data itself." (Government Technology)
- The Project on Government Oversight highlights some issues with USASpending.gov. In a letter to officials at the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget concerning USASpending.gov, POGO's Sean Moulton highlighted "a series of concerns with the current website, the functions available, and the data currently posted. Some of the issues below represent significant gaps in the functionality of the site. We urge Treasury and OMB to address these concerns as quickly as possible, as the identified problems are likely resulting in frustration and confusion among many users." The concerns include search filter issues, data presentation issues, and data issues. (Project on Government Oversight)
- Many staffers who played key roles in last year's tax overhaul have already moved through the revolving door. "Six months after Republicans pushed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through Congress, many of the most influential players who worked behind the scenes on the legislation are no longer on Capitol Hill or in the Trump administration. They are now lobbyists." (New York Times)
- Do agency inspectors general need a new playbook for 2018? David Williams and Dan G. Blair think so, writing "The role of IGs has evolved and grown over the past four decades. But the IGs of 2018 need a new playbook that promotes proactive collaboration with their agencies and with Congress to improve real-time government oversight. This collaboration would represent a monumental step toward a better functioning government to meet the needs and expectations of all Americans." (Roll Call)
around the world
- Speak out against Uganda's restrictive social media tax today using #NoToSocialMediaTax. "Join the Global Voices Sub-Saharan Africa team (@gvssafrica) for a multilingual tweetathon demanding an end to the taxation of social media in Uganda. On July 1, the Ugandan government began enforcing a new law that imposes a 200 shilling [US$0.05, £0.04] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms, despite protests from local and international online free speech advocates." (Global Voices)
- An Israeli private intelligence firm reportedly helped discredit Hungarian NGOs ahead of elections in April. "The Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube was involved in a campaign to discredit NGOs ahead of Hungary’s April election, according to a former Black Cube employee and a person with knowledge of the company’s inner workings. Between December 2017 and March 2018, Hungarian NGOs and individuals connected to American-Hungarian businessman George Soros were contacted by agents using false identities who secretly recorded them. The recordings, which began appearing in the Jerusalem Post and Hungarian government-controlled daily paper Magyar Idők three weeks before Hungary’s election, were used by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to attack independent civil society organizations during the last days of the campaign." (POLITICO)
- Last week, the European Parliament voted down a controversial online copyright overhaul, but the fight is just getting started. "Europe’s war over internet copyright rules isn’t over. It’s just entering a new — and potentially more brutal — phase. The European Parliament voted Thursday to take the EU’s proposed overhaul of online copyright rules back to the drawing board, reopening talks on a controversial law that affects media, creative industries and internet giants." (POLITICO)
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