Today in OpenGov: Crime and punishment


In today's edition, we share the latest in Trump family conflicts, vulnerable Senators seek Wall Street cash, a journalist goes missing in Turkey, and more. 


  • Department of Justice website changes indicate a more punitive approach to juvenile justice. "The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has removed a number of webpages related to ongoing programs and policy guidance, and altered messaging on its website in ways that indicate a shift toward a more punitive approach to juvenile justice under the Trump administration. Information related to girls in the juvenile justice system and the use of solitary confinement among youthful offenders were among the materials removed from its website without notice. Changes have been made to the terminology used to describe juveniles that come into contact with the justice system and the types of programs and services OJJDP supports and provides. The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project documented those removals and significant language shifts, through an analysis of pages preserved by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, in a pair of reports released today." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • This senator has some questions about the Small Business Administration's removal of its Spanish language website. "A Democratic senator has complained that the Small Business Administration has removed its Spanish-language website, though the agency disagrees with that characterization. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, on Tuesday wrote to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon seeking an explanation and background documents on the agency’s recent alterations to its 'SBA en español' webpage and substitution of instructions to use Google Translate." (Government Executive)
  • President Trump feels no need to release his tax returns in wake of New York Times report on his family's tax history. "The White House said Wednesday there are no plans for President Trump to release his tax returns in the face of a New York Times report that found he engaged in 'dubious' tax practices in the 1990s, allowing him to reap millions. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she was 'not aware of any plans' for Trump to release his tax returns." (The Hill)
  • Elsewhere in the world of Trump family conflicts of interest: emoluments and our new database. "This week, search the newly released database of potential conflicts of interest associated with President Donald Trump and other members of the First Family, read the New York Times investigation into possible tax schemes involving President Trump and his family and hear why a judge is allowing a second emoluments lawsuit against the president move forward." (Sunlight Foundation)

washington watch

Image via Pixabay.
  • Financial missteps may help define tight Senate race in Tennessee. "Ask Representative Marsha Blackburn about finances and a strong response can follow…In her years as a congresswoman, she has paid out more than $370,000 from her campaign funds to her daughter and son-in-law or firms they control. Her campaigns have received 54 requests for additional information from the Federal Election Commission since 2002, and in a 2008 internal audit the campaign admitted receiving nearly $400,000 in unreported contributions and expenditures…[Democratic candidate Phil] Bredesen has had his own financial misstep. A longtime booster of the solar industry as governor of Tennessee, he started a solar company with two of his aides during his last year in office, attracting headlines and criticism. After he left office, the business went on to reap some of the tax breaks that the Bredesen administration had put in place." (New York Times)
  • Four vulnerable Senate Democrats turn to Wall Street for financial backing, following their support of deregulatory action. "Four Democrats who voted for a banking deregulation bill earlier this year and are now in dead-heat re-election races have received large contributions from banks and financial interests, compared to the amount received by most senators, a Sludge review of campaign finance data shows.  In March, 17 Senate Democrats, including four who are currently in the most competitive races, broke with the majority of their caucus to vote for Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) bill to roll back regulations on the banking industry (S. 2155)." (Sludge)
  • The public fight over Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination is being waged with millions in dark money. "Advocacy groups are ratcheting up the war over Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, shedding the last vestiges of a high-minded issues debate in favor of more acidic attacks on character and motives…Since July, when President Trump nominated Kavanaugh, the warring advocacy groups have spent some $10 million on TV ads either assailing or praising him. Advocacy organizations on both sides are able to keep donors' contributions secret." (NPR)
  • Should Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who lobbied for the key pro-Kavanaugh outside group and served as "sherpa" for the nomination, recuse himself? "The Judicial Crisis Network, as a 501(c) (4) tax-exempt social welfare organization, does not need to publicly disclose its donors. It does, however, report its federal lobbying, which last year included paying Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who was a lobbyist at Covington & Burling until he returned to the chamber, replacing the late Sen. John McCain in September. Kyl’s past paid lobbying for the Judicial Crisis Network, along with his unpaid role as Kavanaugh’s “sherpa” during this year’s confirmation process, has prompted some ethics experts and liberals to call on Kyl to recuse himself from voting on Kavanaugh’s nomination." (Roll Call)
  • Capitol Police arrest ex-Democratic House staffer following release of multiple senators' personal information. "The U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday arrested a 27-year-old man for posting addresses and private information of senators, according to the police department. The department reported that it arrested Jackson A. Cosko for allegedly posting 'private, identifying information (doxing) about one or more United States senators to the Internet.' Cosko has been working as an intern in the office of Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and has been fired, according to her chief of staff, Glenn Rushing…Last week, the Wikipedia pages of Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were altered to show their addresses, phone numbers and email address." (POLITICO)

around the world

An undated picture shows prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Via the Washington Post.
  • A Washington Post columnist, and critic of Saudi Arabian government, goes missing during visit to Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. "Friends and relatives of Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran journalist from Saudi Arabia who has recently become a vocal critic of the kingdom’s leadership, said they were worried about his safety on Tuesday after losing contact with him while he was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul…Khashoggi, a prominent commentator on Saudi affairs who writes for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year, when he left Saudi Arabia over concerns that he would be arrested or prevented from traveling." (Washington Post)
  • Malaysian officials charge wife of ex-premier with money laundering in widening probe. "Malaysian prosecutors charged the wife of ex-premier Najib Razak with money laundering and tax evasion, the latest chapter in the stunning downfall of the former leader and his family after he lost power in May. Rosmah Mansor pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of handling funds from unlawful activities involving 7.1 million ringgit ($1.7 million), according to court proceedings on Thursday." (Bloomberg)
  • Ireland's data privacy watchdog is expected to launch an investigation into the recent Facebook data breach. "Ireland’s data protection authority is expected to launch a formal investigation into the Facebook data breach affecting 90 million people worldwide, the first major test of Europe’s new data protection rules, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The inquiry marks the latest setback for the social networking giant, which has been plagued by scandal over the last two years ranging from the use of its platform by Russian-backed actors during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 to the Cambridge Analytica data breach." (POLITICO)
  • Journalists in Kashmir are facing increasing restrictions, violence. "A valley in the foothills of the Himalayas, Kashmir has for decades been the ground of a bloody feud between India and Pakistan; for most of that time, journalists have covered the conflict unfettered by government minders. Recently, however, that has been changing. In May, foreign journalists—including me, the outgoing India bureau chief of The Washington Post—received an official warning from the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about traveling to “certain areas” without asking for permission; we all knew it was referring to Kashmir." (Columbia Journalism Review)


Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox! Please send questions, comments, tips, and concerns to We would love your feedback!