Today in OpenGov: Under fire


In today's edition, a fake news database, the next generation of police worn body cameras, competing for the President's attention on Fox News, attacks on journalists around the world, and more. 

washington watch

An image from POLITICO's new fake news database.
  • POLITICO launches "Is This True?" a new fake news database. "Disinformation is everywhere. We're tracking it down and explaining why it's fake, where it appeared and who shared it." Check out the database here and read more about the project here
  • As Wall Street booms, its political donors are increasingly embracing Democrats. "The stock market may be booming. Unemployment is hitting record lows. Republicans pushed through $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. But despite all that, for the first time in a decade, the broader financial community is on pace to give more money to Democratic congressional candidates and incumbents than their Republican counterparts, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign donations." (New York Times)
  • Navy aviation safety data, formerly public, is put behind a wall. "I made the disturbing discovery recently that, amid a dramatic five-year spike in aviation accidents, the Navy has put aviation safety data that used to be public behind a wall…The decision to suppress this data from public view came as the Navy, which also oversees Marine aviation, was dealing with headlines pointing out that its safety problems are increasing faster than any other branch: The Navy has seen an 82 percent spike in accidents between the 2013 and 2017 fiscal years, while the overall military increase for that same period of time is 40 percent." (The Atlantic)
  • Senator asks FEC if campaign funds can be used to secure personal devices and accounts from cyber threats. "Citing Russian hacking in the 2016 election and ongoing cyber threats, Senator Ron Wyden asked the Federal Election Commission if campaign funds could be used to protect personal devices and online accounts of members of Congress." (Bloomberg) Meanwhile, three California campaigns acknowledge cyber attacks. "The spotlight on cyber vulnerabilities of political campaigns has grown brighter after three Democratic campaigns in California were hacked during the state’s primary elections." (The Hill)
  • Tech industry, fearing tougher regulation from state and foreign governments, push federal government to move on data privacy rules. "New laws in Europe and California are forcing tech companies to protect users' privacy or risk big fines. Now, the industry is fearing that more states will enact tough restrictions. So it's moving to craft federal legislation that would pre-empt state laws and might put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of enforcement." (NPR)

states and cities

  • Hawaii launches public database on state-owned property use. "An inventory of land owned by the state and who pays to use it has been laid out in a new statewide public online database after more than a decade of efforts to create such a system. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources finished what it called a 'monumental' task to produce the searchable map-based trove of information in 2015 and recently opened it to public use." (Government Technology)
  • Low youth voter turnout in U.S. tied to absence of civic education in schools. "It’s widely known that young adults in the United States tend to vote at lower rates than older Americans, but it’s easy to gloss over just how stunning the numbers really are—especially at a time of such intense political polarization and divisiveness. Only half of eligible adults between the ages of 18 and 29voted in the 2016 presidential election that sent Donald Trump to the White House. During the 2014 midterm elections two years earlier, the youth-voter-turnout rate was just 20 percent, the lowest ever recorded in history, according to an analysis of Census data…These troubling voting rates follow decades of declining civics education." (The Atlantic)
  • New policy body cameras feature livestreaming, gunshot detection, and more. "Axon, the preeminent manufacturer of body-worn cameras for law enforcement, has launched the latest version of its devices, known as the Axon Body 3. The new version features gunshot detection, livestreaming, and wireless uploads." (Ars Technica)
  • State commission drops ethics investigation against Alabama Sheriff who misappropriated more than $750,000 meant for inmate meals. "The Alabama Ethics Commission voted on Tuesday to drop an ethics violation case against Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin. Thomas Albritton, the commission's executive director, confirmed the move in an email to Wednesday morning…The Ethics Commission investigation was launched in the months following a March report by that revealed that Entrekin had pocketed more than $750,000 of public funds allocated for the purpose of feeding inmates in Etowah County's jail over the last three years. He and his wife purchased a $740,000 beach house in Orange Beach in September." (Governing)


President Trump and Vice President Pence watch TV. Image via Time/Benjamin Rasmussen.
  • Interest groups looking to gain President Trump's attention are urged to advertise on Fox News. "An ethanol group in a high-stakes battle with the oil industry devised its television advertising strategy with a single viewer in mind: President Trump." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Watchdog requests investigation into Nikki Haley's private flights. "A government watchdog group on Monday called for an investigation into whether U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley violated federal ethics regulations by accepting flights on private planes. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter formally requesting the State Department’s inspector general investigate the flights, which Haley acknowledged in her 2017 public financial disclosure report." (The Hill)
  • Last year Vice President Pence protested a protest by walking out of an NFL game. The move cost taxpayers at least $325,000. "Newly released documents from the Department of Homeland Security show more clearly that Pence’s early departure was a stunt — and not a cheap one at that. The Secret Service on Friday released receipts and folios indicating more than $75,000 in expenses, including hotels, travel and additional security measures. But this is hardly the extent of the bill…All told, it cost $325,000 at the very least for the vice president not to watch a football game." (HuffPost)

around the world

The Committee to Protect Journalists tracks journalist deaths around the world.
  • Murdered Bulgarian journalist was investigating misuse of EU funds, issue also being looked at by EU watchdog. "The EU’s anti-fraud agency last month began looking into allegations of misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria, the same issue being explored by a journalist who was killed at the weekend. On Saturday, Victoria Marinova was raped and murdered in the northern Bulgarian city of Ruse. Her last televised report was about the work of investigative journalists looking into alleged large-scale corruption involving EU funds by a group of companies. Marinova had been planning a reporting trip to learn more about the allegations." (POLITICO)
  • Missing journalist reportedly killed inside Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey. "Turkish investigators believe a prominent Saudi journalist who contributed to The Washington Post was killed in 'a preplanned murder' at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, the Post reported Saturday night, citing two anonymous officials. Saudi authorities had no immediate comment, though they’ve insisted the writer left their diplomatic post." (Washington Post) Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department as well as lawmakers from both parties have called on Saudi Arabia to release more information and launch an inquiry. (POLITICO)
  • Hong Kong refuses to renew visa of Financial Times editor who helped organize August talk by pro-independence activist. "Hong Kong has refused to renew the visa for the foreign press club’s vice president, Victor Mallet, who is also the Financial Times’ Asia news editor. A spokesperson for the Financial Times told HKFP…Mallet chaired a talk by pro-independence activist Andy Chan at the FCC in August, which the office of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong had tried to block." (Global Voices)


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