Today in OpenGov: Grounds for impeachement


In today's edition, West Virginia moves closer to impeaching its entire Supreme Court, perks for White House staff, a renewed focus on healthcare data, unrest in Bucharest, and more. 

states and cities

The West Virginia State Capitol. Image: David Wilson.
  • The West Virginia legislature voted to impeach the entire state Supreme Court, sending the issue to the Senate for a trial. "The West Virginia House of Delegates voted late Monday night to impeach all of the justices on the Supreme Court, a decision prompted initially by reports of extravagant spending on office renovations. In a series of votes that frequently fell along rough party lines, lawmakers approved 11 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices, sending the process on to the State Senate." (New York Times)
  • Eric Greitens isn't Governor of Missouri any more, but his controversial nonprofit is still fighting the state's ethics commission. "A nonprofit tied to former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens wants to stop the state's ethics commission from getting some records. An attorney for A New Missouri filed the request in Cole County Court late Thursday to quash a subpoena sent by the Missouri Ethics Commission. The commission demanded records from Carrollton Bank, the institution that handled money for the nonprofit." (ABC 17 News)
  • This Wisconsin county has a plan to archive government text messages. "Rock County, Wis., will begin implementing an archiving system for text messages sent and received on county-issued cellphones, making such communication available as public records. The program is expected to be operational by Thursday, Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said. Once in place, the texts will be stored on a server and kept for about seven years." (Government Technology)
  • New Jersey names Beth Noveck, former Obama OSTP official and founder of GovLab, as first Chief Innovation Officer. "The state of New Jersey has created a new C-level innovation post and hired a former federal tech leader to make government services more responsive and jumpstart its innovation economy. New Jersey has hired Beth Simone Noveck as the state’s first-ever chief innovation officer…Noveck is founder and director of The Governance Lab (GovLab) at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn and was the first U.S. deputy chief technology officer, and director of the White House Open Government Initiative under the Obama administration according to LinkedIn." (Government Technology)


President Trump playing golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Image via: Japan.
  • White House staffers are reportedly eligible for members discounts at President Trump's New Jersey golf course. "There’s an under-the-radar perk being offered to staffers in President Donald Trump’s administration — discounts on Trump-branded merchandise sold at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. White House staffers who have a Secret Service hard pin identifying them as administration officials can flash it at the pro shop …and receive the same discount available to club members, who pay a reported $350,000 to join the club." (POLITICO)
  • GOP groups have spent at least $3.5 million at Trump properties since the beginning of last year. "At least 125 Republican campaigns and conservative political groups spent more than $3.5 million at President Donald Trump’s resorts, hotels and restaurants since January 2017, the month he was sworn in, according to an analysis by McClatchy…The list includes Trump supporters like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a group of influential conservative members…Since 2017, the biggest spenders have been Republican party committees — including the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Senate Committee — and Trump himself." (McClatchy DC)
  • Nonpartisan watchdog group asks the Department of Commerce IG to investigate Wilbur Ross' financial dealings. "A nonpartisan watchdog has accused U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of violating conflict-of-interest laws as well as statutes governing false statements and omissions — and is asking the department’s inspector general to investigate. The 115-page complaint by the Campaign Legal Center cites reporting by the Center for Public Integrity and several other news organizations in calling for an extensive inquiry into Ross’ handling of his complex personal holdings while in office." (Center for Public Integrity)

washington watch

  • White House hosts Blue Button 2.0 developers conference to boost health data innovation. "The White House believes that the future of health care is in the hands of the consumer. Leaders from the Office of American Innovation and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pledged Monday at a White House-hosted Blue Button 2.0 developers conference to continue empowering patients and the private sector by “unleashing” health care data to drive a revolution in the medical field…The notion is not a new one — the principal idea of opening health care data to consumers was championed throughout President Barack Obama’s eight years in office. But the Trump administration officials breathed new life into it in March with the launch of Blue Button 2.0 — an open API tool built around Medicare claims data for developers to use to build third-party apps — and the MyHealthEData initiative…" (FedScoop)
  • Did the DNC just reverse its ban on taking money from corporate PACs tied to the fossil fuel industry? "The Democratic National Committee passed a resolution Friday afternoon that activists say effectively reverses a ban on fossil fuel company donations. The resolution introduced by DNC Chair Tom Perez states that the party 'support[s] fossil fuel workers' and will accept donations from “employers’ political action committees.” It was approved by a 30-2 vote just two months after the committee adopted another resolution prohibiting donations from fossil fuel companies by a unanimous vote." (Huffington Post)
  • New report says that GSA could do a better job tracking unused, leased space at federal buildings. "About 1 percent of federally owned buildings are vacant, according to the Public Buildings Service, but that figure omits 785,400 square feet of unused leased space worth $21 million a year in uncollected revenue, a watchdog found." (Government Executive) You can read the report, from GSA's IG, here
  • The National Archives confirms its rejection of Senate Democrats' request for documents tied to Brett Kavanaugh. "The National Archives is doubling down on its refusal to respond to Democratic requests for documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's White House tenure.  Archivist David Ferriero wrote in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that it is the agency's policy to only respond to requests from a committee chair, all of whom are Republicans." (The Hill)

around the world

A July 24 demonstration against social media arrests in Lebanon. Photo by Hasan Shaaban, via Global Voices.
  • Online activists in Lebanon are facing increased pressure from security forces. "Lebanese security agencies are ramping up the interrogation and censorship of online activists and journalists over social media posts, and sparking renewed debate over the limits to freedom of speech in the country. Over the past few weeks, at least 10 activists were interrogated by Lebanese security agencies, eight of them by the Internal Security Forces’ Cybercrimes Bureau, over Facebook and Twitter posts. This compares to 18 people summoned by the agency in the six years between 2010-2016, according to research by Social Media Exchange, a local NGO that works on internet policy." (Global Voices)
  • Is democracy under siege in Romania? Marius Stan and Vladimir Tismaneanu explain, "…Fifty years on from the crushing of the Prague Spring and almost 30 years after the 1989 revolutionary upheaval, Eastern Europe is experiencing a vicious return to authoritarianism. Romanians experienced this first hand on Friday, as police used brutal force to crush protests in Bucharest that saw more than 100,000 Romanians from all over the world gather in the capital’s PiaČ›a Victoriei, “Victory Square,” to protest rampant government corruption." (POLITICO)
  • Norway's fisheries minister stepped down after failing to comply with rules around a private trip to Iran. "Per Sandberg, Norway’s fisheries minister, stepped down after failing to comply with government guidelines during a private trip to Iran over the summer. Sandberg, 58, failed to inform the prime minister as well as his own ministry about the trip with his 28-year-old Iranian-born girlfriend in June." (Bloomberg)


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