Today in OpenGov: Clamoring for California Campaign Cash


In today's edition, Sunlight's Web Integrity Project releases its latest report, T-Mobile executives spent even more at President Trump's D.C. hotel than previously reported, an alarming anti-transparency bill is introduced in New Mexico, and more. 

washington watch

Family planning. Image via Sunlight Foundation.Image via Sunlight Foundation.
  • The latest Web Integrity Project report highlights HHS' removal of Affordable Care Act content from its Title X website. "Without notice to the public, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Population Affairs (OPA) removed a collection of ten pages related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from its “Title X Family Planning” website. These changes, which occurred between April and May of 2017, are documented in the Web Integrity Project’s latest report." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • The Department of Defense has been slow to make progress on recommended reforms. "The Defense Department’s ongoing efforts to reform such areas as contract management and headquarters reorganization have shown progress, but its implementation rate on recommended actions is well below that of other agencies, the Government Accountability Office reported. In a Feb. 5 letter to leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Congress’s watchdog concluded that the Pentagon’s implementation rate as of November 2018 of 67 percent trailed the governmentwide rate of 77 percent." (Government Executive)
  • 2020 presidential hopefuls head to California looking for early infusions of campaign cash. "A political Gold Rush is starting up in California, well before the field settles in the Democratic presidential contest…While its Super Tuesday presidential primary is making the delegate-rich state a pivotal stop, it remains a veritable ATM for candidates who have spent years cultivating their relationships." (POLITICO)
  • Democrats, GOP clash over ethics and election reforms during House hearing on H.R. 1. "Republican lawmakers on Wednesday condemned a Democratic bill that includes vast new oversight to ensure ethical behavior by federal employees, though their criticism focused primarily on other provisions of the sweeping reform package rather than those aimed at the civil service…" (Government Executive)
  • This former Democratic member of the FCC will help T-Mobile gain approval for its $26 billion merger with Sprint. "T-Mobile has tapped the FCC's most recently departed commissioner, Democrat Mignon Clyburn, as a paid adviser to its $26 billion deal with Sprint, pitting her against public interest groups that oppose the deal and typically see Clyburn as a reliable ally. Clyburn advocated for marginalized communities during her eight-year tenure on the commission and opposed AT&T's failed 2011 bid for T-Mobile because she didn't believe it would serve the public interest. She argues this merger, however, will help close the digital divide and bring service to underserved areas." (POLITICO)
  • Wealthy Americans heaped more than $30 million in campaign cash on GOP politicians as they passed President Trump's tax reform bill in 2017. "From the time the tax bill was first introduced on Nov. 2, 2017, until the end of the year, a 60-day period, dozens of billionaires and millionaires dramatically boosted their political contributions unlike they had in past years, giving a total of $31.1 million in that two months, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics found. The Center’s analysis found that 144 wealthy donors, some household names and some behind-the-scenes, contributed at least $50,000 to Republicans and conservative groups in that time frame. For 87 of those, three out of five, the surge of giving at year’s end reflected a marked change in their giving behavior. " (Center for Public Integrity)


The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
  • T-Mobile executives booked more nights at President Trump's D.C. hotel than previously reported. "Executives from the telecom giant T-Mobile — which last year asked the Trump administration to approve its megamerger with Sprint — have booked at least 52 nights at President Trump’s hotel in the District since then, even more than previously reported, according to newly obtained records from the hotel." (Washington Post)
  • The House Intelligence Committee will give all of the transcripts from its 2017-2018 Russia probe to the special counsel and relaunch its own investigation. "The House Intelligence Committee will release all transcripts from its 2017 and 2018 Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — And eventually, the documents will be released to the public. The committee voted on the step to release the transcripts Wednesday at its organizational meeting, where it announced it will relaunch the probe and focus on five key areas of interest." (Roll Call)
  • House Democrats are looking to obtain President Trump's tax returns, but are divided about the best way to do so. "House Democrats have devoted themselves to a pledge to investigate President Trump at every turn, but when it comes to releasing his tax returns members are preparing for what could be a slow road ahead. Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee face a dilemma that is already familiar in the first weeks of their majority. Members generally agree that the public has a right to see the tax entanglements of a president. Things get trickier when it comes to who should be demanding those returns and how quickly they should force what is likely to be a confrontation with the administration over the issue." (NPR)

states and cities

The New Mexico State Capitol Building. Image Credit: Ken Lund.The New Mexico State Capitol Building. Image Credit: Ken Lund.
  • New Mexico bill would substantially increase fees for access to electronic public records. "Sen. John A. Sapien, District 9, (Bernalillo and Sandoval) has introduced a bill in the New Mexico Senate that would significantly change the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) – requiring New Mexicans to pay substantially more for electronic copies of public records. Under SB 442, New Mexicans would be required to pay a fee for electronic records. Under the current law, governmental entities can only charge records requestors their 'actual costs' for electronic records.  That means that records sent via e-mail are generally free, while the cost for records transmitted via a disk or drive is limited to the cost of that storage device." (New Mexico Foundation for Open Government)
  • Ohio's financial transparency portal continues to add local government data. "Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague has announced that Sutton Township’s online checkbook has been added to…Sutton Township is the third township in Meigs County to join The district’s online checkbook includes over 800 individual transactions that represent more than $400,000 in spending from 2016 through 2017." (Government Technology)
  • Federal corruption probes hit four of America's biggest cities. "Four of America’s largest cities are under the dark clouds of major federal corruption investigations. Residents, politicians and power brokers in all of them are holding their breath, waiting for signs of how deeply their civic cultures will be shaken…The Chicago and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are the two most corrupt in the United States, based on the number of federal public corruption convictions from 1976 to 2016, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Philadelphia comes in at No. 8." (New York Times)


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