Today in OpenGov: Bridging the gap


In today's edition, a campaign finance gender gap, natural gas cash for this NY official, President Trump's consumer data considerations, an anti-disclosure decision in Europe, and more. 

House on the Hill

The United States Capitol building at dusk.
  • Did this Montana Senate Candidate take it easy on a top political donor in his position as state auditor? "Family members and employees of a Billings-based bail bond company facing fines and sanctions by the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance gave nearly $13,000 to Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s political campaigns in 2016. One day after a 2017 face-to-face meeting with company representatives, Rosendale dropped the fines and dismissed two of the three allegations against Friedell LLC. The company paid no penalty under the terms of the agreement." (Montana Free Press)
  • Vulnerable GOP Representatives given something to tout ahead of midterms as their bills get floor votes. "As the House prepares to wrap up its fall legislative business this week before going on recess for the duration of the midterm campaign season, half of the vulnerable Republican incumbents will be leaving with parting gifts. Those gifts come in the form of floor votes on bills they have authored. By the end of the week, 28 of the 57 House Republicans whose seats are considered in play this cycle, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, are set to go home with the chamber having voted this month on at least one of their bills." (Roll Call)
  • Democratic women running for the House face a significant fundraising gap compared to their male counterparts. "Gender gaps aren't just for the workplace, and the midterm elections are proving it. An NPR analysis of campaign finance records shows that Democratic women candidates face a fundraising gap, compared to Democratic men, in the party's toughest House races. In Federal Election Commission filings, the women running for Congress have raised an average of $500,000 less than the men, in the 67 most competitive districts as rated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. The analysis found that the 34 Democratic women challenging Republicans in those districts raised a combined $34.5 million from out-of-state donors, compared to $48.3 million raised by the 33 men. Out-of-state money is a growing, and critical, building block in House races." (NPR)

states and cities

Government Technology is keeping track of state chief privacy officers. 
  • Does your state have a chief privacy officer? Find out here. "As our data-based world evolves by the day, the risk of sensitive data getting compromised continues to grow. To fight back, government offices across the country are hiring dedicated staff to ensure that policies and systems put in place to do the people's business aren't unnecessarily jeopardizing the information of private citizens. The role is most often called chief privacy officer. Here's our rundown of the people occupying privacy positions across state and local government." (Government Technology)
  • Former New York State pension chief joins the board of natural gas company that she defended in her previous role. "New York State’s former top pension investment officer was appointed to the board of a natural gas conglomerate after the pension system bought up the company’s bonds, rejected demands to divest from fossil fuels and supported multimillion-dollar pay packages for the company’s executives after the firm’s stock price had dropped. Vicki Fuller was appointed as a director of The Williams Companies on July 31st — the same week she left her position as the chief investment officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund." (WNYC)
  • Arkansas voters set to weigh in on recently passed term limit extension amid wave of corruption. "Four years ago, Arkansas legislators found a way to extend their careers. There was an ethics measure going on the ballot to put limits on lobbyists and their campaign contributions. But lawmakers also inserted a major extension of term limits, allowing members to serve up to 16 years in either chamber. What's more, they included a mechanism to permit salary increases for themselves. The ballot measure passed. Supporters of term limits tried to repeal it back in 2016. They failed, but it turned out they were lucky in having to wait until this year's ballot to try again. Legislators have been busy proving the argument that they can't be trusted, with a series of bribery scandals rocking the capitol. Five former legislators have been convicted or pleaded guilty over the past year — so many that there are mordant jokes about the Arkansas Senate not having enough members for a quorum." (Governing)


Image via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions meets with state officials to discuss social media privacy and antitrust issues… "The long-awaited meeting between the Justice Department and state attorney generals about just what to do about social media companies focused less on the alleged political bias of those companies, as President Trump has harped on, and more on potential antitrust and privacy issues." (BuzzFeed)
  • …Meanwhile, a federal agency is seeking public comment on consumer data protection ideas. "The Trump administration is seeking public input on ways to protect consumer privacy and data online, suggesting that any plan should increase user control over what information to provide and should require that organizations be accountable for what they collect. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is seeking the comments at a time when tech companies face greater scrutiny in Washington, in state legislatures and from state attorneys general, including over the breadth of information they collect from users." (Bloomberg)
  • FEMA Director Brock Long's bill for unauthorized vehicle use could run as high as $151,000. "An internal investigation has found that Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), spent $151,000 on unauthorized travel, The Wall Street Journal reports. Long used government vehicles and employees to cart him and his family around during a trip to Hawaii that included both official functions and vacation, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, which the Journal obtained." (The Hill)
  • Trump administration fails to get Census citizenship lawsuit dismissed, top official will be deposed. "The Trump administration failed to stop lawsuits over its decision to ask residents about their citizenship on census forms and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore will be required to answer questions under oath. A federal appeals court in New York on Tuesday rejected a challenge from the Commerce Department to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s ruling that allowed evidence gathering to proceed and required Gore to sit for a deposition." (Bloomberg)

around the world

Photographed at a biometric data collection camp of the 'Aadhaar' project of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI), Govt. of India, in Salt lake, Kolkata. Image credit: Biswarup Ganguly.
  • Indian Supreme Court upholds national biometric ID program despite surveillance concerns…"India’s top court has refused to scrap the world’s largest biometric database, upholding the validity of the sprawling digital-identity program but imposing restrictions on its use — including preventing the government from sharing citizens’ data with private companies. Four out of five Supreme Court judges said the program is constitutionally sound for the distribution of state-sponsored welfare subsidies in a country where nearly a quarter of the 1.3 billion-strong population is poor. However, it cannot be made mandatory for opening bank accounts or providing mobile-phone connections, Justice A.K. Sikri told the courtroom, though it is required for Indians paying income tax." (Bloomberg)
  • …Meanwhile, India is set to consider a powerful consumer data protection law. "On Aug. 24, 2017, India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment declaring privacy to be a fundamental individual right. In response, a committee headed by a former Supreme Court justice drafted a data protection bill to be presented to parliament later this year. The measure introduces a new type of entity, a “data fiduciary,” which will ensure that data is used for designated purposes only. Just as a financial fiduciary is bound to act ethically in the best interest of the client, similarly, a data fiduciary — which will be one or more regulated entities — will ensure that the user has approved any transaction using his or her data, via an app." (Washington Post)
  • Open Knowledge International is looking for a new CEO and there are still a few days left to apply. "The space around us is changing and Open Knowledge International needs a CEO who can help refine our identity and mission in this changing context. We are looking for someone who is entrepreneurial, creative and can work out what open means today, turning our mission into reality. You will be able to harness our activist ethos to deliver the services and products while ensuring the sustainability of the organisation and our mission. The application deadline closes this Monday, 1 October 2018." (Open Knowledge)
  • European court backs European Parliament's refusal to disclose how members spend their expense allowances. "The European Parliament is under no obligation to disclose how its members spend expense allowances totalling more than €100 million per year, the General Court of the European Court of Justice said in a ruling Tuesday. The verdict comes three years after a group of investigative journalists asked the EU court to examine the legality of the Parliament’s refusal to hand over information on travel expenses, subsistence allowances, general expenditure allowances and staffing arrangements expenses, which MEPs receive on top of their salaries." (POLITICO)


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