Editor's note: We'll be publishing on a bit of an inconsistent schedule for the next month or so due to travel and other obligations. To start, today will be our last edition for about two weeks. We hope to be back to a regular schedule, sharing the best roundup of OpenGov news that we can by the end of May. You can help us ensure that we are providing you the most useful product possible by taking a few minutes to fill out our reader survey.
In today's edition, President Trump's campaign loves spending at his properties, the whistleblowers who exposed DHS' family separation policy are honored, senior politicians in India are censored for hate speech amid elections, and more.
- Latest filings bring the total amount that President Trump's campaign has spent at President Trump's properties up to $14 million… "President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign only spent a fraction of the more than $30 million it collected during the first three months of 2019. But of the $8.8 million Trump spent to cover campaign expenses — ranging from events to merchandise to hefty legal fees — a chunk went to benefit his Trump branded-empire and some of the people closest to him…Such spending continues a years-long trend of the president frequenting his own properties for dinners, events or for office use. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Trump’s campaign has spent more than $14 million on Trump-branded companies since he first began running for president." (Center for Public Integrity)
- …The Trump campaign isn't the only political committee that spends heavily at Trump properties. ProPublica is tracking them all here.
- Bill Weld, former GOP governor of Massachusetts, officially launches primary challenge against President Trump. "Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld is officially challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary…Weld, 73, most recently ran as the running mate of 2016 Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson. He served two terms as governor of Massachusetts in the 1990s, and was known as a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican. He re-registered as a Republican earlier this year in Canton, Mass., where he lives." (POLITICO)
- Redacted Mueller report slated for release on Thursday. "Attorney General William P. Barr will release the highly anticipated special counsel’s report to Congress and to the public on Thursday morning, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Monday. Mr. Barr will release the report after department lawyers black out secret grand jury testimony, classified information, material related to continuing investigations and other delicate information, said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec." (New York Times)
- The Interior Department's IG has opened an ethics investigation into newly confirmed secretary David Bernhardt. "The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has opened an investigation into ethics complaints against the agency’s newly installed secretary, David Bernhardt…Eight senators, all Democrats, and four government ethics watchdog groups have requested that the Interior Department’s inspector general open formal investigations into various aspects of Mr. Bernhardt’s conduct." (New York Times) Meanwhile, Bernhardt's office acknowledged that it intentionally left certain meetings off of his calendar. (Roll Call)
- Whistleblowers who exposed DHS' family separation policy receive top whistleblower award. "Two current and one former Homeland Security Department official collected a prestigious whistleblower award on Monday for having exposed the Trump administration’s practice (since eased) of separating undocumented immigrant children from families crossing the southern border with Mexico…The Ridenhour prizes, given since 2003 in honor of journalist Ron Ridenhour for his work exposing the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, is sponsored by the Type Media Center, the Fertel Foundation, and the Stewart R. Mott Foundation." (Government Executive)
- Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) is racking up big legal bills amid ethics investigation. "Rep. David Schweikert is running up big legal bills as the House Ethics Committee investigates the Arizona Republican's dealings with his former top aide and other employees. Schweikert owes more than $229,000 to law firms, according to his just-released campaign filings. And that's on top of the tens of thousands of dollars he has already paid out to his defense team during the ethics probe…The House Ethics Committee — follwing investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent ethics watchdog — launched a formal probe last year into allegations that Schweikert misspent official funds and received illegal campaign contributions from his former chief of staff, Oliver Schwab, and other employees, according to a statement from the panel." (POLITICO)
- Making evidence-based policy requires partnership between researchers and policymakers. "The new Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act requires federal agencies to spell out which questions they’re trying to answer and then to collect data systematically. But if called upon to help with this research, outside experts will need to do their part, too, by putting themselves in the shoes of the public officials who have to make the best decisions they can with the information they have." (The Atlantic)
- Sen. Kamala Harris raises large sums from Hollywood while regularly supporting the entertainment industry policy agenda. "California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has been busy collecting checks from Hollywood elites…Harris’ fundraising from Hollywood interests is nothing new. According to data collected by the National Institute on Money in Politics, Harris raised more than $1.1 million from PACs and individuals in the television and movie production and distribution industry from 2009-16…Harris’ strong support from Hollywood follows her history of working to help the entertainment industry in its fight against websites like YouTube that allow users to upload and link to content, including content that could potentially infringe on copyrights held by big media companies." (Sludge)
around the world
- The Council of the EU backed the bloc's controversial new copyright law. "The Council of the European Union today backed a controversial copyright crackdown in a ‘deeply disappointing’ vote that could impact on all internet users. Six countries voted against the proposal which has been opposed by 5 million people through a Europe-wide petition – Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden. Three more nations abstained, but the UK voted for the crackdown and there were not enough votes for a blocking minority." (Open Knowledge)
- Senior politicians where hit with temporary bans on campaigning for hate speech amid Indian elections. "India’s Election Commission has punished one of the ruling party’s most prominent Hindu nationalist politicians for religious hate speech just days after the country’s tense general election began…In a separate statement, the commission issued a 48-hour ban on Mayawati, a former state chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. She had urged Muslim supporters to cast ballots in favor of her party and a coalition ally opposed to Modi’s BJP." (Bloomberg)
- Egyptian journalists and activists speak out against partial release, which require them to spend nights in jail. "Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, spent five years in prison for simply doing his job as a journalist. He was detained on August 14, 2013 as he was photographing the deadly dispersal of the Rabaa El Adaweya sit-in…Shawkan, who was working for Demotix at the time of his arrest, spent almost four years in pre-trial detention before his trial…In September 2018, a Cairo Criminal Court convicted him on spurious charges of murder and affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and a few months later he was released from jail. Shawkan’s supporters were thrilled to see him reunited with his loved ones when he was released on March 4. But the journalist is actually only partially free. Every evening at 6pm, he has to report to his local police station where he has to spend the night, before he is free again at 6am the following morning." (Global Voices)
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