Today in OpenGov: Overstated


In today's edition, cities embrace public financing of election campaigns, the House Intelligence Committee wants more staffers with security clearances, the latest Trump administration conflicts of interest, and more. 

states and cities

Image: BCJ/Shutterstock via the Brennan Center.
  • On election day, voters in Baltimore, Denver, and New York City backed public financing of campaigns. "Voters in last week’s election backed measures in Florida, Michigan, and elsewhere aimed at expanding access to voting and ensuring fair maps — victories that have reverberated nationwide. But those weren’t the only democracy reforms that won at the polls. In Baltimore, Denver, and New York City, voters overwhelmingly voiced their support for public financing of campaigns. Public financing is the most powerful reform available to address the troubling trends of big money in politics." (Brennan Center For Justice)
  • Federal appeals panel upholds bulk of Bridgegate convictions against aides to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R). "Former Christie administration appointee Bill Baroni and administration official Bridget Anne Kelly will likely serve at least some prison time, as a federal appeals panel upheld most of their convictions over their roles in the 2013 Bridgegate scandal. In a decision issued Tuesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the seven wire fraud and conspiracy counts Kelly and Baroni were convicted of in 2016 over the George Washington Bridge lane closures three years earlier — an act of political retribution against Fort Lee’s mayor, who refused to endorse Gov. Chris Christie’s reelection." (POLITICO)
  • Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) is heading to jail two years after the conviction that ended her political career. "Former state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane must report to jail by Thursday morning to begin serving her sentence for convictions on perjury and other charges from abusing the power of her office in an attempt to smear a perceived political enemy.Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy on Tuesday revoked Kane's bail and ordered her to report to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility by 9 a.m. Thursday to begin serving her 10-to-23-month sentence." (Philadelphia Inquirer
  • New report shows results of Smart Cities pilot in Dallas, Texas. "It might not come as a huge surprise that air pollution was up following an Independence Day fireworks show this year in Dallas. But knowing the types of particulate matter and how much was present could be useful information for residents suffering from asthma or other breathing problems. This is just some of the feedback the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) learned after reviewing several months of data collected by a network of sensors and other devices in the city’s Smart Cities Living Lab in the West End Historic District. Starting in March 2017, DIA, a nonprofit, partnered with private-sector vendors to launch nine smart city projects in a four-block area to both test their efficacy and how they might be scaled up for larger citywide deployments. DIA recently issued its report on the findings of the pilot projects." (Government Technology)

washington watch

Screenshot via
  • The Library of Congress is trying to ease access to with a Chrome extension. "Ever found yourself reading a news article and wishing you could easily open up the actual text of, say, HR 6901, the Federal CIO Authorization Act of 2018? You could click a link (if offered), search for the legislation on yourself or, now, download this handy Chrome extension. A summer intern at the Library of Congress built the Browser Extension, which allows users to highlight text on a third-party webpage, click the extension and automatically search for that text phrase (or name, or bill number, etc) on in a new tab." (FedScoop)
  • The House Intelligence Committee is looking to restart a long stalled push to give security clearances to more staffers. "A long-stalled effort to hire more staffers with security clearances to help the House Intelligence Committee will get fresh momentum in the 116th Congress, as Democrats take leadership roles. California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who will likely be the next chairman, said he’s looking for ways to provide panel members’ personal staffs with top secret clearances so they can review classified information…Without having at least one personal staffer with the security clearance to review classified material, lawmakers serving on the House Intelligence Committee are often at the mercy of the panel’s professional staffers, who have clearances but who report only to the committee’s chairman and ranking member, said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress, a nonprofit group that seeks greater government accountability." (Roll Call)
  • Multiple witnesses have implicated Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) during former aide's corruption trial, but the statute of limitations has passed. "Multiple witnesses in the trial of Rep. Robert A. Brady’s former campaign strategist have implicated the congressman for conspiring to commit campaign finance crimes, recasting the spotlight on his past alleged corruption…Brady eluded prosecution last November after litigators allowed the statute of limitations on his alleged crimes from 2012 and 2013 to expire." (Roll Call)
  • The Commerce Department is looking for public feedback on how they identify emerging technologies. "The federal government is enlisting the public’s help to identify emerging technologies with the goal of regulating their distribution in the interest of national security. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security on Nov. 19 issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, calling on the public to comment on criteria that could be used in an interagency process to identify emerging technologies." (Executive Government)


  • Last week in Trump conflicts? Midterm millions, an emoluments update, Rudy Giuliani's Russia connections, and more. Lynn Walsh checked in with her latest look at Trump administration conflicts of interest which included a look at the millions of dollars President Donald Trump’s properties brought in during the midterm election period, the latest on the emoluments lawsuit, a look at Rudy Giuliani’s connections to Russia and more trademarks in China for Ivanka Trump. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Interior Department watchdog clears Secretary Ryan Zinke of wrongdoing in one of the inquiries into his behavior. "A government watchdog agency has cleared Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of wrongdoing following an inquiry into whether he redrew the boundaries of a national monument in Utah to avoid the nearby land holdings of a Republican state lawmaker and supporter of President Donald Trump…Several investigations into his behavior at the agency are still pending, and he also faces a possible Department of Justice inquiry into his involvement in a land deal in Whitefish, Mont., linked to the energy giant Halliburton." (New York Times)
  • The Department of Homeland Security keeps overstating how often "fake families" are seeking entry into the United States. "Homeland Security has occasionally come back to the idea that there is an epidemic of children being moved across the border by people who are not their parents, an effort by those adults to be treated as parents upon reaching the United States…n June, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted that there had been a 314 percent increase in the number of adults who showed up at the southern U.S. border with a child who wasn’t their own. Then, as now, the figures are misleading — and in no way suggest “a significant problem” of adults trying to smuggle children who aren’t their own across the border." (Washington Post)
  • Paul Manafort's lawyer has reportedly repeatedly briefed President Trump's lawyers on interactions with Mueller probe. "A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations. The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence." (New York Times)


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