Today in OpenGov: Give Thanks
Editor's note: We're taking some time off to celebrate Thanksgiving, but we'll be back next Tuesday with your regular roundup of of all the latest #OpenGov news. In the meantime, we'd like to remind you that November 27th, is #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving to charities and nonprofits that balances the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We know you have options when it comes to your donations, but if you find these roundups useful we hope you'll consider chipping in a couple of dollars to help keep them running. Read more about what Sunlight has planned for the coming year and how you can help out here.
Meanwhile, in today's edition, the NSA IG wants subpoena powers, President Trump wanted the Justice Department to investigate some enemies, Beijing has big plans to judge its residents' behavior, and more.
- The NSA Inspector General argues that expanded subpoena powers would improve oversight. "Robert Storch, inspector general for the National Security Agency, called for an expansion of his office's subpoena authority to compel telecommunications companies who send records to the government to participate in interviews about ongoing investigations and audits." (Federal Computer Week)
- After a surprise primary loss, Rep. Joe Crowley's leadership PAC spent more than $30,000 on a fundraiser at a racetrack. "In the days and weeks following his shocking primary loss, Rep. Joe Crowley’s Jobs, Opportunity and Education PAC…spent nearly $37,000 on trips to horse racing tracks, hotels, airfare and several high-end restaurants…A spokeswoman for Crowley said the expenditures were related to a fundraising 'bond building' weekend held in late July that had been planned before the June primary." (Sludge)
- No plans for Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg to step down in wake of Facebook scandals. "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday he plans to stay on as company chairman and work with COO Sheryl Sandberg 'for decades more to come,' remarks that come amid mounting scrutiny of their management efforts. The embattled Facebook chief was pressed on whether he plans to step down from leading the company board." (POLITICO)
- The House Ethics Committee is making a bipartisan push for reforms to Congress' sexual misconduct policies. "The House ethics committee's 10 members on Tuesday called for a final deal this year on overhauling Capitol Hill's sexual misconduct system, a nudge that comes after months of stalled talks on reconciling the House and Senate's approaches. In a letter to House and Senate leaders in both parties, the ethics panel's GOP and Democratic members lauded the Hill misconduct legislation that the House passed in February — amid multiple sexual harassment scandals that ended careers on both sides of the aisle." (POLITICO)
- Reports indicate that President Trump pushed to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey, was rebuffed by White House counsel. "President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power." (New York Times)
- Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested information from the White House on Ivanka Trump's use of personal email. "Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) sent a letter to the White House Tuesday asking for information on Ivanka Trump's usage of her personal email to discuss government business. Gowdy, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requested that White House chief of staff John Kelly provide information on the basis that using that email 'implicate[s] the Presidential Records Act and other security and recordkeeping requirements.' The letter also set a Dec. 5 deadline for a response to the inquiry and asked that the Committee be kept up to date on the internal White House investigation on recordkeeping, including any findings related to Ivanka's email usage." (The Hill)
- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's financial disclosures show more than $1 million in compensation from a political group with secret donors. "Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting attorney general, was paid more than $1.2 million in the past few years by a group active in conservative politics that does not reveal its donors, according to financial disclosure statements released Tuesday and other documents. The disclosure raised questions about who Mr. Whitaker’s financial patrons had been before he joined the Justice Department last year and whether he might have any undisclosed conflicts of interest. And it highlighted the prominence of so-called dark money groups that pursue political agendas and employ members of both parties without being required to make public the source of their funding." (New York Times)
- President Trump has submitted written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller. "President Donald Trump submitted written answers to questions provided to him by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office — a long-awaited moment of unclear import…It is not yet clear whether Mueller will seek further questioning of the president, in writing or in person. A special counsel’s office spokesperson declined to comment." (BuzzFeed)
around the world
- Beijing has plans to track, grade, and sanction or reward all of its residents by 2022. "China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident. The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday." (Bloomberg)
- The head of the UN Environmental Program resigned after an internal audit found excessive travel spending, lack of controls. "There were too many trips to Paris. And it wasn’t helping to save the environment.That was among the conclusions of an internal audit that resulted in the resignation Tuesday of Erik Solheim, a veteran Norwegian diplomat, from his post as head of the United Nations Environment Program. The investigation, conducted by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, criticized the environment agency for 'a culture of scant regard for internal controls and existing rules' on the use of public funds." (New York Times)
- New report argues that "data monopolies" by Google, Apple, Uber, and other tech companies stifle innovation in the UK. "Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Uber should be forced to share mapping data with rivals firms and the public sector, the UK government has been advised by a data advocacy group. In a report published today, the Open Data Institute (ODI) said that “data monopolies” were stifling innovation in the UK. These companies duplicate one another’s efforts, said the report, while using their large financial clout to gain insurmountable leads over would-be rivals. If they shared data, they said, then many services and new technologies — like drone delivery services and self-driving cars — would benefit." (The Verge)
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