Today in OpenGov: Oops I deleted my texts…


In today's edition, Montana's strong campaign finance law will stand, President Trump's new pick for UN ambassador was one of his major donors, Rep. Duncan Hunter's legal defense fund benefits from defense contractors, and more. 

states and cities

The Montana State Capitol BuildingThe Montana State Capitol building. Image credit: Martin Kraft.
  • The Supreme Court won't take up a challenge to Montana's strong campaign finance law. "Montana’s 2015 campaign finance law survived its biggest test Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, declined to take up a case challenging the state’s Disclose Act.  The high court leaves in place a lower court’s ruling that Montana’s so-called 'Disclose Act' is constitutional. The law, aimed at so-called “dark money groups,” which don’t disclose the names of their donors, requires more public reporting on spending by political groups aiming to influence elections." (Montana Public Radio)
  • The Mayor of Philadelphia, who declines to use a government issued cell phone, has regularly deleted all of his texts. "He deleted all text messages on his phone for the month of July. As he had, it turns out, during the months and years that preceded it. The mayor, who has long eschewed a city-issued cell phone in favor of his personal cell phone, 'wasn’t aware that he needed to retain texts on his personal device…' Habit or not, the move may violate state open records laws. Any communication — electronic or paper — as it relates to city business is subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law and considered a public record. And those records are intended to be preserved to help citizens see and understand how public officials govern and tax dollars are spent." (
  • California considers letting candidates use campaign cash to secure their personal electronic devices. "As hackers target California campaigns, the state wants to let political candidates use some of their campaign funds to secure personal phones and computers. A bill, which was introduced in the state legislature Thursday, could spark a trend among states that want to protect political races from being upended by the sort of hacking operation that targeted Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign…There is some recent precedent for using campaign funds for security– but in a different context. A Federal Election Commission ruling approved in December allowed members of Congress to use excess campaign funds to protect their personal devices after they entered office." (Washington Post
  • In New York City next weekend? Celebrate International Open Data Day with the NYC School of Data. "On Saturday, 2 March 2019, we are kicking off NYC’s fourth Open Data Week! And celebrating International Open Data Day. This year, we wanted to focus on civic engagement with the city’s data producers. For 2019, we partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) to integrate 15 city officials across 30 sessions. Additionally, we’ve worked with our allies to ensure critical voices are lifted up into our fourth year of programming. If you haven’t registered, we are close to selling out. To attend, you must purchase a ticket via eventbrite. We are offering free childcare, affordable passes, and a $30 Government Pass. You do not want to pass up this exciting day of mental and community nourishment." (NYC School of Data)


Former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeFormer Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore.
  • A grand jury is investigating if former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to prosecutors about casino deal. "Prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury in Washington in their probe of whether former interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to federal investigators, according to two individuals briefed on the matter. The closed-door deliberations are focused on Zinke’s decision not to grant a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a commercial casino in Connecticut, according to these individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are not public." (Washington Post)
  • President Trump's new nominee for UN ambassador is current Canadian ambassador, and major donor, Kelly Knight Craft. "President Donald Trump is nominating Republican fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The Kentucky native currently serves  as the U.S. ambassador to Canada…Craft was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention and made significant contributions to Trump’s presidential bid. Her husband, coal executive Joseph Craft III,  also has made large contributions to Trump and other Republican politicians…Craft was appointed as an alternate delegate to the U.N. during the George W. Bush administration." (Roll Call)
  • Robert Mueller's final report is expected soon, but the extent to which it will become public is an open question. "The Justice Department will soon receive a final accounting from Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, of his nearly two-year investigation into how Russia influenced the 2016 election, whether the Trump campaign participated in those efforts and whether President Trump obstructed justice. But there is no guarantee that the public will ever see that full report…William P. Barr…the attorney general must then send a summary of that work to Congress. The regulations leave Mr. Barr considerable flexibility as to how much detail he provides to Congress and the public…Congress, for its part, is unlikely to be satisfied with anything short of a full copy of Mr. Mueller’s work." (New York Times)

washington watch

Congressman Derek Kilmer; Nick Hart, Bipartisan Policy Center; Christian Hoehner, Data Coalition; Nick Schockey, SPARC; Alla Seiffert, Internet Association; Christian Troncoso, BSA | The Software Alliance.Congressman Derek Kilmer; Nick Hart, Bipartisan Policy Center; Christian Hoehner, Data Coalition; Nick Schockey, SPARC; Alla Seiffert, Internet Association; Christian Troncoso, BSA | The Software Alliance. Image via Data Coalition.
  • What's next for open data in the wake of the OPEN Government Data Act? "The Data Coalition, Center for Data Innovation (CDI), and the American Library Association hosted a joint panel to discuss the OPEN Government Data Act’s impact on the future of open data in the United States. The Coalition’s own Senior Director of Policy, Christian Hoehner, as well as representatives from BSA | The Software Alliance, the Internet Association, SPARC, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, discussed what this new law means for government modernization, data-centric decision making, and the implementation of successful federal open data initiatives." (Data Coalition)
  • Who chipped in to embattled Representative Duncan Hunter's legal defense fund? Defense contractors and his uncle. "Donors to a special fund established by Rep. Duncan Hunter to underwrite his legal defense include the board member of the company founded by his uncle and multibillion dollar defense contractors. Hunter can tap $60,800 in donations to a piggybank separate from his campaign committee — called the Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust — to finance his legal case." (Roll Call)
  • The telecom industry will be raising money for this Senator the night before he presides over a high profile hearing on data privacy. "The telecom industry will be hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) next week, the night before he will preside over a hearing on data privacy, according to an invitation obtained by The Hill. Wicker, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is slated to attend the Tuesday fundraiser at the Capital Grille restaurant. The event is being hosted by the political action committees for AT&T and the trade group USTelecom…The next day Wicker’s committee will hold its first hearing of the new Congress on crafting comprehensive data privacy legislation — a key issue for the telecom industry." (The Hill)


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