In today's edition, an ACA removal, a failure to disclose, a Chief Data Officer for Cook County, net neutrality in India, a Supreme Court sherpa's dark money connections, and more.
"For the nearly 73.8 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and others newly eligible for these services, it has recently become much more difficult to learn about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Medicaid.gov.
Early last month, a 14-page website dedicated to the ACA was removed from Medicaid.gov, the website for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. While content from some of these pages is still live elsewhere on Medicaid.gov, most of the information, which remains accurate and relevant for Medicaid recipients, has been entirely removed. A prominent link and dropdown menu with the text “Affordable Care Act” has also been removed from Medicaid.gov’s top menu, indicating a shift in how information is now being presented on the website."
Find the full report on the Sunlight Blog.
- As lawmakers eye the revolving door, their opportunities at trade organizations may be slim. "Retiring lawmakers could find it harder than ever to find a job at trade groups next year. Headhunters who specialize in finding candidates for high-level K Street jobs told The Hill industry groups are no longer clamoring for the cachet of hiring a former elected official. Instead, they say hiring trends have changed and high-powered groups are looking for people with management skills, policy knowledge and industry smarts." (The Hill)
- Is the Chamber of Commerce changing its tune to harmonize with anti-corruption laws? Neil Gordon asks, "is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backing off its years-long campaign to gut the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)? One gets that impression from a new report by the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, Lighting the Way: FCA Reform and Compliance Program Credit. The report by the legal advocacy arm of the pro-business Chamber makes no mention of weakening the FCA or the FCPA, the federal government’s key anti-corruption weapons. Instead, it strikes a conciliatory tone…we can hope that the Chamber’s recognition of the importance of these laws means it will stop trying to undermine them." (Project on Government Oversight)
- The FCC acknowledges flaws in its comment system, is planning an update focused on fighting fraud and abuse. "The Federal Communications Commission is planning to overhaul its public comments system to deter fraud and abuse, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to lawmakers last week. The FCC may institute a CAPTCHA system as part of a redesign…[currently] The FCC comment system accepts public input on FCC proposals. The system allows anyone to comment and takes no significant steps to prevent spam or fraud." (Ars Technica) Our former colleague Alex Howard shared some thoughts on the news that are well worth a read. Specifically, he argues that "adding a CAPTCHA to try to prevent spam unfortunately sounds like a solution from the last millennium to a decidedly 21st century set of problems…Given the agency’s resources, mission and professed commitment to transparency and legal mandate to consult the public in its rulemakings, the FCC needs to aim much higher than a CAPTCHA or even a ReCAPTCHA, particularly given these concerns." (E Pluribus Unum)
- Watchdog files complaint against House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) for failure to disclose investments. "An ethics watchdog has filed a complaint against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), alleging that the lawmaker failed to fully disclose investments in three California companies. The nonpartisan Campaign for Accountability says Nunes failed to disclose income from a 2006 investment in Alpha & Omega Winery until 2013, despite the winery’s 'apparent success.'" (The Hill)
states and cities
- This Wyoming county won't release its contract for prison phone service because of a conflicting clause in the document. "A Wyoming county contract for phone services at the local jail is currently being withheld from disclosure due to a provision included by the company, ICSolutions, that labels the document a “trade secret” and, thus, nonreleasable under the state public records law. The condition, however, sets up a conflict between two elements of the Wyoming Public Records Act, the one that clearly identifies contracts as an official public record, generally available to the public…and the one making a specific exemption for “trade secrets,” information unique to the company that, if disclosed, could harm its business interests." (MuckRock)
- America's second largest county just hired its first Chief Data Officer. "The nation’s second-largest county is one step closer to filling out its technology bench, after experiencing a key departure last month. Cook County, Ill., has identified a finalist in its search for its next CIO and hired its first-ever chief data officer." (Government Technology)
- Alabama governor moves to restrict controversial process that sent prison-food funds straight to sheriffs' pockets. "Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has moved to end a practice that allowed some county sheriffs to pocket leftover from money jail food programs, but advocacy groups said the controversial practice won’t stop unless lawmakers change state law. Ivey directed the state comptroller on Tuesday to stop paying a food service allowance — worth about $4,000 annually per sheriff — to sheriffs’ personal bank accounts. Ivey is also asking lawmakers to clarify state law so that a larger pot of money for purchasing food, which totals almost $8 million annually, cannot be kept for sheriffs’ personal use, spokesman Daniel Sparkman said." (Associated Press)
around the world
- India passes net neutrality rules. "Eight months after India’s telecom regulator came out swinging heavily in favour of the principle of net neutrality, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has finally agreed to adopt the same. The recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November 2017 would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in 'any form of discrimination or interference' in the treatment of online content." (The Wire)
- Former Catalan leader — currently detained in Germany — can be extradited to Spain on charges of misusing public money. "Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont can be extradited from Germany to Spain for misappropriation of public funds, following a ruling Thursday by a court in Schleswig-Holstein. However, the court ruled that he cannot be extradited on the more serious charge of rebellion. The regional court had in May said that it would study the extradition request, and it ruled that extradition on the charge of rebellion was 'not admissible' since it has no equivalent in German law." (POLITICO)
- Iran arrests Instagram celebrities in crackdown on social media. "When the high-profile Iranian Instagram users Maedeh Hojabri, Elnar Ghasemi, Shadab Shakib and Kami Yousefi were arrested in May 2018, it signaled a new phase in state efforts to control expression on Instagram. The arrests of these high profile Instagram users sparked a worldwide outcry after the government forced the 18-year-old Hojabri to confess to the 'crime' of posting videos of herself dancing. Tension around Instagram has been mounting since the start of 2018, when protests spread across the country and Iranian authorities temporarily blocked online platforms Instagram along with Telegram. Both sites are extremely popular in Iran." (Global Voices)
keeping up with kavanaugh
- The dark money supporting Supreme court "sherpa", former Senator Jon Kyl. "In 2017, a conservative dark-money group called the Judicial Crisis Network paid Covington & Burling $215,000 to have Kyl and another of their lobbyists, William Wichterman, work as unofficial sherpas for Trump’s last Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. Kyl and Wichterman were paid by the group to support the confirmation of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, as well as to prepare for another possible Supreme Court vacancy, according to lobbying disclosures reported with the Senate." (Sludge)
- A fight over access to Brett Kavanaugh's long written record emerges as Democratic delay tactic. "Democrats are demanding "access and time" to dig into the vast cache of documents that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh compiled during his years in the George W. Bush White House, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. Schumer’s marker indicates that Democrats — who have scant procedural power to slow the nomination — are gearing up for a battle over Kavanaugh’s written communications that could delay a final confirmation vote." (POLITICO)
- Kavanaugh's previous decisions and statements indicate a deregulatory approach to campaign finance. "In recent years, the Supreme Court has swiftly remade the landscape of American politics, gutting 1960s-era civil rights laws restricting voter suppression, sharply weakening labor unions, and deregulating the campaign finance system to allow for wealthy individuals and corporations to exercise greater influence over elected representatives. With President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, that influence is poised to grow. Kavanaugh’s appellate court decisions and public comments suggest that he will accelerate the trend toward a political system dominated by wealthy elites — often operating in the shadows, without any form of disclosure." (The Intercept)
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