Today in OpenGov: Respect my authority!


In today's edition, the fight for President Trump's taxes heats up, independent journalists face a continued crackdown in Morocco, a former Senate staffer pleads guilty for doxxing senators, and more. 


Image credit: Marco Verch.
  • The fight between House Democrats and President Trump over access to his tax returns is heating up… "Given the disagreements between Democrats and the administration, the matter is widely expected to result in a court battle. Here are five things to watch in the fight for Trump’s tax returns." (The Hill)
  • …Trump has long insisted that he can't release his tax returns because he's under audit, which isn't exactly true. "President Donald Trump said erroneously that the law is on his side to fight House Democrats’ attempts to see his personal and business tax returns…Trump has long insisted that the reason he won’t voluntarily release his tax returns is because he is under audit by the IRS. No law bars a filer from releasing tax returns that are being audited. Sitting presidents and vice presidents are annually audited by the IRS, but Trump claimed he was under audit for years before he was elected." (Bloomberg)
  • Speaking of the IRS, Trump has never been in a rush to fill vacant federal positions except, it seems, when those jobs have a particularly personal connection for him. "President Trump is not a man in a hurry to fill top-level vacancies in his administration…But he has reportedly taken a keen interest in confirming one official: his pick for . . . IRS chief counsel? It’s not difficult to surmise a very self-serving reason for that. And other recent Trump appointments only reinforce the possibility that his motives aren’t entirely pure here." (Washington Post)
  • It might take the U.S. two entire years to identify all of the children separated from their families at the southern border, according to court filing. "It may take federal officials two years to identify what could be thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their families at the southern United States border, the government said in court documents filed on Friday. A federal judge had asked for a plan to identify these children and their families after a report from government inspectors in January revealed that the Trump administration most likely separated thousands more children from their parents than was previously believed." (New York Times)
  • Lynn Walsh's latest look at Trump administration conflicts include shady security clearances, inaugural finances, and Michael Cohen's "encouragement" to lie. "This week, top contractors with President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee are being asked to turn over documents, a whistleblower comes forward with more details about the approval of security clearances for Jared Kushner and others, and Buzzfeed News is again reporting that Michael Cohen was told to lie to Congress." (Sunlight Foundation)

around the world

Moroccan protesters in June 2017. Image credit: Mohamed Mouha.
  • This Moroccan protest movement ended in 2017, but journalists that covered it are still being punished. "The Hirak protest movement in Morocco first took hold after the death of Mohsin Fekri, a fish vendor whose product was seized by authorities in the city of Al Hoceima on October 29, 2016. When Fekri tried to reclaim the fish, he was crushed to death by a garbage truck. From then until well into 2017, Moroccans in the Rif region held weekly demonstrations protesting poor socio-economic conditions and corrupt government officials, long-neglected by the central government, and they persisted until authorities launched a violent crackdown in June 2017, arresting 400 activists and protesters. The movement also triggered a backlash for independent journalists and people who wanted to document the protests and ensuing crackdown." (Global Voices)
  • Slovenia declined a request by Hungary's government to censor journalists following a magazine cover critical of Hungarian leader Viktor Orban. "Slovenia rejected a Hungarian government request to censor journalists after a Slovenian publication ran a front cover showing a caricature of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán doing a Nazi salute. A spokesperson for Slovenia's Permanent Representation to the European Union confirmed that the country's foreign ministry received a note from the Hungarian ambassador regarding the cover." (POLITICO)
  • Thailand's military government is putting increased pressure on a young, anti-junta party that did well in recent elections. "Thailand’s military establishment is intensifying attacks on a young political party that surged in March’s general election and whose 40-year-old leader is the newest symbol of opposition to the junta. The party, Future Forward, won about 18 percent of votes and is a key part of a coalition trying to prevent the junta’s proxies from forming the next government. The party’s supporters say the military administration is trying to cow opponents and blunt the anti-junta alliance to retain power." (Bloomberg)

washington watch

The Hart Senate Office Building.The Hart Senate Office Building. Image credit: The Architect of the Capitol.
  • Former Senate staffer plead guilty to doxxing senators during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. "A former Capitol Hill staffer accused of doxxing Senators during the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings pleaded guilty Friday to five charges, including witness tampering and computer fraud. Jackson A. Cosko, 27, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of making public restricted personal information; one count of computer fraud; one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction of justice. Cosko posted the cell phone numbers and home addresses of senators onto the web from House and Senate computer networks." (Roll Call)
  • House Republicans want answers from FEMA after 2.3 million disaster survivors had their data leaked. "After poor management and data controls led to 2.3 million disaster survivors’ highly sensitive information being released to a contractor, a group of Republican lawmakers are calling on officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to explain themselves before Congress…Nine members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, including ranking member Frank Lucas, of Oklahoma, sent a letter Thursday to Gaynor requesting a briefing no later than April 18 that goes into 'specific details' about why this happened, the impact to affected citizens and the agency’s plans to prevent this from happening again." (NextGov)
  • Motel 6 improperly shared information on 80,000 guests with ICE. It just agreed to pay $12 million to settle a related lawsuit in Washington State. "Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit claiming the chain improperly provided guest lists to immigration authorities for two years, Washington state's attorney general announced Thursday. The lawsuit said Washington locations of the chain provided information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a warrant. As a part of the settlement, Motel 6 has committed to no longer hand over guest information at all U.S. locations, unless required by warrant, subpoena or law." (USA Today)


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