Today in OpenGov: All bundled up.


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Meanwhile, in today's edition, we join a coalition calling for presidential candidates to disclose their bundlers, Georgia's new ethics chief plans some subpoenas, the White House wants more control over agency rulemaking, and more. 

washington watch

A bundle of $100 bills. A bundle of $100 bills. Image via Pixabay.
  • Sunlight joined a broad coalition calling on presidential candidates to disclose their bundlers. "Issue One was joined today by 15 other organizations from across the ideological spectrum in urging all Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to publicly disclose information about their top campaign fundraisers on a regular basis during the 2020 presidential election. Presidential candidates have long utilized individuals known as “bundlers” to help them raise the funds necessary to wage competitive campaigns, and it has long been a bipartisan tradition for candidates to voluntarily disclose information about their campaign bundlers. This transparency practice has been embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike…" (Issue One)
  • Former Representative Jeb Hensarling has a new gig at UBS. "UBS has hired former Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), ex-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as executive vice chairman of the Americas region…The Texas Republican chaired the Financial Services Committee from 2013 to 2019 and was chairman of the House Republican Conference was 2011 to 2013. He was also the co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction." (The Hill) The folks at the Center for Public Integrity responded by arguing that the hiring represents "Washington’s revolving door at its worst" and noting that Hensarling regularly sided with the banking industry while raking in their campaign donations while in Congress. 
  • The GAO is planning to spend $15 million next year to build up its new technology assessment office. "The Government Accountability Office will spend $15 million next year scaling up a new office dedicated to building tech literacy on Capitol Hill and informing policy decisions on issues like 5G, quantum computing and privacy. Officials plan to expand the Science and Technology Assessment and Analytics group’s staff from 49 to 70 full-time employees by the end of 2019, according to the expansion planGAO submitted to Congress. In the years ahead, GAO said the office could grow to as many as 140 staffers." (NextGov)
  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London as his U.S. indictment was unsealed… "British police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday, a move they made in response to a U.S. extradition request on charges that he aided the hacking of classified material on U.S. government computers in 2010. The indictment, revealed Thursday by the Justice Department and dated March 6, 2018, alleges Assange aided former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning with 'cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers' that contained classified documents and secrets." (POLITICO)
  • …His case has raised some major questions around the future of press freedom in the United States. "Throughout that saga, national security and law enforcement officials in both the Obama and the Trump administrations have weighed whether they could charge Mr. Assange with a crime. That debate has raised concerns by press freedom advocates about what any precedent established by his case would mean for First Amendment rights and the future of investigative journalism in the United States." (New York Times)

states and cities

Public Square, a public square, in Downtown Cleveland, OhioPublic Square, a public square, in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Image credit: Cards84664/Wikimedia Commons.
  • What is the impact of increased investment in public spaces? "Reimagining the Civic Commons believes in the power of our public spaces to bring people together across divides, rebuild trust and yield more resilient communities. But we recognize that to convince others to invest in this new approach to civic assets takes more than a theory of change; it takes evidence…Today, we released the first set of interim data for four cities (AkronChicagoDetroit and Memphis). While this only captures the first 18 months of their efforts (and much work is still to be done), impacts of investments in better public places are starting to be realized." (Reimagining the Civic Commons)
  • Georgia's new ethics chief is planning to subpoena records from Stacey Abrams' campaign for governor. Is he doing his job or acting as a partisan attack dog? "The new director of the state ethics commission plans to subpoena bank records from the campaign of 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and groups that raised money to help her in last year’s nationally watched race. Former Douglas County prosecutor David Emadi, who started his new job Monday, also said his office will soon decide whether to prosecute the campaigns of Atlanta mayoral candidates…Emadi was accused of partisanship in his plans to investigate Abrams and the mayoral candidates. The candidates he mentioned being under investigation are Democrats, and he is a former officer in the Douglas County Republican Party who once worked briefly for GOP House Speaker David Ralston. He also donated $600 last year to Republican Brian Kemp’s successful campaign for governor." (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
  • Illinois is the latest state taking concrete steps towards tying ballot access to tax return transparency for presidential candidates. "The Democratic-led Illinois Senate voted Thursday to compel President Trump to release five years’ worth of his personal income tax returns or be barred from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot next year. The state is joining a movement of other Democratic states that aims to force the president to open up his personal finances by releasing his tax returns, something he stubbornly has refused to do and reiterated again this week. During contentious floor debate in the Illinois statehouse, Trump’s name wasn’t mentioned once by the legislation’s sponsor, state Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago Democrat who insisted he merely is trying to shed more transparency on the presidential campaign." (WBEZ Chicago)


The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois.
  • President Trump's sister, a federal judge, retired amid a judicial ethics complaint into her participation in Trump family tax schemes. "President Donald Trump's sister has retired as a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia, ending a civil misconduct inquiry launched after a report that she participated in Trump family schemes to dodge taxes. The retirement of Maryanne Trump Barry was revealed in an April 1 order signed by a top court official in New York, where the misconduct case was assigned to prevent conflicts of interest for judges who knew Barry." (Bloomberg)
  • The Senate confirmed David Bernhardt, an ex-lobbyist who has been accused of being too close to his former clients, as the official head of the Interior Department. "The Senate has confirmed David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, to lead the Department of the Interior. The Thursday afternoon vote, 56–41, made Bernhardt’s top position official. He’s been acting secretary since January…Democrats, along with various environmental and conservation groups, have sharply criticized Trump’s nominee for his possible conflicts of interest. Before joining the administration, Bernhardt worked for the lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Some of his former clients include oil and gas companies and trade groups, including Halliburton Energy Services and the US Oil & Gas Association. Per the agency’s ethics rules, he’s barred from directly working with nearly two dozen former clients until August 2019." (BuzzFeed)
  • The White House is moving to tighten its grip on the ability to review agency regulations. "During the first year of the Trump administration, the Republican-controlled Congress revived the seldom-used 1996 Congressional Review Act to cancel numerous Obama administration regulations. On Thursday, acting White House Budget Director Russell Vought hinted at plans for further use of that law’s authorities when he informed agency heads of new rulemaking review powers being given to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs." (Government Executive)
  • The latest Trump administration conflicts of interest include the President's taxes, the Pentagon's spending at Trump properties, and more. "This week, the wait continues for House Democrats requesting access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the president’s sister retires as a federal judge amid an ongoing investigation and CNN totals the spending by the Department of Defense at Trump-branded properties." (Sunlight Foundation)


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