Today in OpenGov: Hold Up


In today's edition, Sunlight's Web Integrity Project welcomes a new research director, President Trump looks to Mar-a-Lago for a new ambassador, another Senator wants to change his state's laws so he can run for reelection and President in 2020, and more. 

Today's roundup is brought to you by Titus Andromedon.

washington watch

  • Sunlight's Web Integrity Project has a new Director of Research! "We’re thrilled to announce that Sarah John is joining the Web Integrity Project as its new Director of Research! Sarah brings to WIP several years of research management experience at non-profits, including Legal Services Corporation and FairVote. She will direct our website monitoring work and research into important changes to federal websites. Through leading the production of website monitoring reports, she will drive WIP’s effort to document and reveal important changes in access to public information." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) vows to hold up judicial nominees until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stops blocking bipartisan bill to protect the Mueller investigation. "Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says he will block all of President Trump’s judicial nominees until his bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller goes to a vote…Flake has long been a critic of Trump but has mostly declined to use his leverage in the razor-thin Senate to hold up Republican judges. That changed Wednesday when Flake sought unanimous consent to bring his bill to protect Mueller forward for debate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, blocking the bill. Flake then declared he will vote to reject all judicial nominees." (BuzzFeed)
  • New report documents nearly 400 instances of the revolving door between DoD and the defense industry. "As many as 380 high-ranking Defense Department officials and officers over the past decade left government to become lobbyists, corporate board members and defense contractor consultants, according to a transparency group’s tabulations. In 645 instances documented by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, officials went to work for major contractors—Boeing, General Dynamics and United Technologies are the top three—with nearly 90 percent of them doing lobbying, said the study, the group’s update on one of its regular themes going back to 2004." (Government Executive)
  • New report explores Facebook's aggressive response to recent crises. "as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives." (New York Times)


The entrance to Mar-a-Lago.
  • Looking to be an Ambassador under the Trump administration? It might pay to sign up for a Mar-a-Lago membership. "The nomination of Lana Marks as ambassador to South Africa, yet another Mar-a-Lago member tapped for such an honor, is certain to raise some uncomfortable questions about whether President Donald Trump is rewarding longtime members of his exclusive, pricey Mar-a-Lago club…Marks is the fourth Mar-a-Lago member, which costs $200,000 to join, to earn a nod from the president for an ambassadorial posting…" (Business Insider)
  • Campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump properties during midterm election cycle. "Campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump-owned and branded properties throughout the two-year midterm election cycle, a CNN analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows. And the total could rise after post-election financial reports are published by the commission." (CNN)
  • As President Trump argues against free press access to the White House, his administration argues for press freedom abroad. "The Trump administration on Wednesday spoke out forcefully against efforts by China and Myanmar to punish news reporters and political dissidents. But at the White House, President Trump was focused on another case — his efforts to discredit CNN correspondent Jim Acosta." (Washington Post)

states and cities

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Image Credit: Medill DC.
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wants to change his state's laws so he can run for reelection and President at the same time in 2020. "U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is openly mulling a run for president. But a bid for the White House carries risks: By state law, he would have to give up his Senate seat to run…Salem sources tell WW Merkley has quietly asked state legislators for a change in Oregon law so he can run for both president and the U.S. Senate in 2020. Earlier this month, New Jersey approved a similar request by Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who like Merkley is up for re-election in two years." (Willamette Week)
  • Federal prosecutors will look into reports that Florida Democrats altered election documents. "The Florida Department of State last week asked federal prosecutors to investigate dates that were changed on official state election documents, the first voting “irregularities” it has flagged in the wake of the 2018 elections. The concerns, which the department says can be tied to the Florida Democratic Party, center around date changes on forms used to fix vote-by-mail ballots sent with incorrect or missing information." (POLITICO)
  • Pittsburgh, PA didn't win Amazon's "HQ2 contest" but the city government might have to release details on their bid to woo the tech giant. "Eyes have turned to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where a circuit court judge recently deemed the city’s #AmazonHQ2 proposal documents are of public record and must be released by the end of the month unless the mayor and county executive appeal. At this point, the lawsuit pertains to a lost bid." (MuckRock)
  • Wisconsin Republicans want to take powers that they gave to the state's outgoing governor away from the incoming one. "Robin Vos has been concerned about the expansive and growing power of governors for a while. Back in 2016, the Wisconsin Assembly speaker told me in an interview that he thought the legislature needed to reassert its authority in certain areas…Up until the past week, the Republican did not act on that goal, in terms of seeking structural changes to the governorship. But the day after Democrat Tony Evers unseated Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker last week, Vos floated the idea of curbing the governor's power in a lame-duck session, before Evers takes office in January." (Governing)


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!