Today in OpenGov: Exemptions


In today's edition, FOIA doesn't apply to Congress, the broadband lobby sues California over net neutrality, the Trump family faces new pressure over their tax history and "charitable" foundation, and more. 

washington watch

Image via MuckRock.
  • A friendly reminder from the folks at MuckRock: Congress is exempt from FOIA. "Similar to the White House, the entire Legislative Branch of the federal government is exempt from FOIA. Unlike the White House, there is no equivalent law for Congressional records (such as the Presidential Records Act). Likewise, while certain entitles within the White House are considered subject, Congress maintains a blanket exemption of all associated entities, including the Capitol Police." (MuckRock)
  • FEC issues dark money disclosure guidance in wake of recent decision. "Political nonprofit groups must publicly disclose the names of donors who have given more than $200 toward advertisements or other initiatives that call for the election or defeat of a candidate, according to new guidance from the Federal Election Commission. In the past, only donors who earmarked their contributions for specific ads needed to be disclosed. Under the new guidance, issued Thursday, donors who give money to the nonprofits — called 'dark money' groups by critics — for the more general purpose of independent political activity must now be disclosed." (Washington Post)
  • Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has been a major proponent of President Trump's tariff plans, while working to help businesses in his state avoid them. "Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has been one of the biggest proponents of President Trump’s crackdown on China, welcoming tariffs on Chinese imports while conceding that they will raise costs for American businesses and consumers…But behind the scenes, Mr. Graham has been working to help chemical and textile companies in his home state avoid the pain of Mr. Trump’s trade war. The senator has advocated on behalf of seven South Carolina companies that import products from China, writing letters urging the Trump administration to remove materials they rely on from a list of goods subject to Mr. Trump’s tariffs." (New York Times)
  • Report finds that tiny spy chips where inserted by Chinese manufacturers in servers destined for American companies. "During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China." (Bloomberg)

states and cities

Image via Pixabay.
  • Broadband industry lobby groups join the federal government on list of entities suing California over new net neutrality law. "Four lobby groups representing the broadband industry today sued California to stop the state's new net neutrality law. The lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of California by mobile industry lobby CTIA, cable industry lobby NCTA, telco lobby USTelecom, and the American Cable Association, which represents small and mid-size cable companies. Together, these four lobby groups represent all the biggest mobile and home Internet providers in the US and hundreds of smaller ISPs. Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, Sprint, Cox, Frontier, and CenturyLink are among the groups' members." (Ars Technica)
  • North Dakota hires its first chief data officer. "The state of North Dakota has been busy unifying its shared services and moving to cloud under Gov. Doug Burgum, but it’s also been expanding the tech wing of its C-suite and has hired its first-ever data czar. On Oct. 3, North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley announced longtime private sector tech executive Dorman Bazzell will be the state’s inaugural chief data officer." (Government Technology)
  • Facebook's online ad rules are proving too much for small and local news outlets looking to promote their content. "For larger media outlets, these requirements might be complicated and annoying. For smaller publishers, Facebook’s new rules can be so unwieldy and demanding—and the definition of what constitutes a 'political news story' so capricious—that small newsrooms in four states told CJR they are either scaling back their Facebook usage or, in some cases, have given up on promoting their content there at all." (Columbia Journalism Review)


The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Image via Wikimedia.
  • The New York Attorney General's office is urging a court to allow its suit against President Trump's foundation to continue. "The New York Attorney General's office is urging a state court not to dismiss its lawsuit against President Trump's charitable foundation, saying the foundation has repeatedly violated state and federal laws…Underwood sued the foundation in June, saying it repeatedly solicited money from donors and then used it for campaign-related purposes, violating federal election law. The money was also used to benefit Trump' business interests, by settling legal claims against it, for example, Underwood said." (NPR)
  • New York City joins New York State regulators in examination of the Trump family's tax avoidance schemes. "New York City officials said on Thursday that they had joined state regulators in examining whether President Trump and his family underpaid taxes on his father’s real estate empire over several decades. The announcement came in response to an investigation published this week in The New York Times that showed how Mr. Trump had participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents." (New York Times)
  • Reports indicate that President Trump's big-city hotels have struggled since he began to focus on his political career. "As a private company, the Trump Organization says little about its financial ups and downs. But The Washington Post obtained details from two of President Trump’s landmark properties — his luxury hotels in Chicago and Manhattan — from small-time investors such as Roberts, who get details that the public does not. Those investors — and internal documents they provided — showed that revenue at both properties dropped noticeably as Trump’s political career took off. The decreases have stirred tensions in the buildings and left many investors worried that the Trump brand may be curdling in the liberal cities where Trump built much of his empire." (Washington Post)


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