Today in OpenGov: Resigned to it.


Editor's note: We're back with a jam-packed edition today and on a more regular schedule all of next week before a couple more weeks on the shelf. Thank you for sticking with us as we navigate a crazy calendar through April and May.

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Sunlight HQ

A side-by-side comparison of a portion of the March 6, 2019 and April 30, 2019 versions of OCR’s “OCR Leadership” page, as captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
  • The latest Web Integrity Project report outlines how HHS' Office for Civil Rights overhauled its mission and vision statements. "At the end of April 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overhauled the mission and vision statements listed on its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) website to emphasize OCR’s role in protecting “conscience and free exercise of religion.” The language introduced into OCR’s mission and vision statements appears to reflect new priorities of the office and foreshadows yet-to-be-released new rules that are expected to downplay LGBTQ rights in favor of religious freedoms. OCR’s mission and vision statements had not changed on its website since at least the end of 2015…" You can find all the details in WIP's new mini-report. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Tackling inequities with transparency and community. Noel Isama explained how, "in these times of growing economic and political inequality, cities are often on the frontlines of dealing with the consequences of inequity. Issues such as housing affordability, health disparities, and economic exclusion have forced cities to become increasingly concerned with how they they are using their limited resources to foster equity. Cities need every tool in their toolbox to tackle these foundational issues, and because government is at its best when it is open, community engagement and open data might be amongst the most impactful tools a city has." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • This month in Trump administration conflicts? Trump appointees face an ethics investigation, records of cash flow from an inaugural ball can't be found, and more. Lynn Walsh checked in with two new editions of her weekly look at Trump administration conflicts. One explored the aftermath of the Mueller report, the White House is fighting a subpoena from Congress and an investigation into six of President Donald Trump’s appointees. The other focused on the report from special counsel Robert Mueller was released with redactions, the Palm Beach Post cannot find financial records for one of President Donald Trump’s inaugural balls, and Mueller explains why his family left the president’s membership club in Virginia.

Hot off the presses

(Left to right) Former Reps. Reid Ribble (R-WI), Tim Roemer (D-IN), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tom Davis (R-VA), and Martin Frost (D-TX) testify on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2019. Image credit: Issue One.
  • Six former members of congress shared their ideas on how to reform Capitol Hill with the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. "This week, six former members of congress — all part of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus — returned to Congress to offer very candid words of wisdom about how to fix Capitol Hill to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Their advice included increasing resources and leadership pipelines for career congressional staff; establishing programs for rank-and-file members of Congress to build relationships across the aisle; overhauling the committee system; and reducing the impact fundraising has on leadership positions and legislative decisions in Congress." (Issue One)
  • The House Ethics Committee has a new system for members to request waivers from fundraising rules. "The House Ethics Committee issued a memo Thursday, informing lawmakers of a new simplified way to request a waiver from fundraising rules and reminding them of exactly what those rules are." (Roll Call)
  • As the battle between the House of Representatives and Attorney General William Barr heats up, what can Congress do to push him to comply? "Attorney General William Barr was a no-show today at a House Judiciary hearing. He was set to face questions about the Mueller report. Democrats who control the committee were planning to use staff attorneys to ask Barr many of the questions, a condition Barr refused to comply with. Now House Democrats have threatened to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. So how much power does Congress actually have to force Barr's hand here?" (NPR)
  • Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Maryland resigned amid mounting pressure over scandal. "After weeks of mounting pressure, Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore resigned on Thursday amid a widening scandal involving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of children’s books that she wrote and that the University of Maryland Medical System paid for while she was serving on its board of directors. Her resignation comes days after the Baltimore City Council proposed amending the city charter to make it possible to remove her, and after the F.B.I. raided her two homes and her office at City Hall." (New York Times)
  • The California state Senate approved a bill that would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. It remains unclear if the governor will sign it. "The California Legislature is trying again to force presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns, hoping a new Democratic governor known for his clashes with President Donald Trump won’t block them this time. The state Senate voted 27-10 on Thursday to require anyone appearing on the state’s presidential primary ballot to publicly release five years’ worth of income tax returns." (Associated Press)
  • The EU is considering a probe into state aid for a newly formed Hungarian media conglomerate. "Brussels is weighing up whether to open a state aid probe into financial support from the Hungarian government to a recently formed media conglomerate, the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA in Hungarian.) The foundation, which has close ties to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party, was formed in November 2018 with the merger of hundreds of Hungarian pro-government TV, radio, print, and online outlets. It was exempt from Hungarian media or competition rules following an order signed by Orbán." (POLITICO)

in case you missed it

  • When it comes to disclosing their bundlers, not all 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are on the same page. (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Joe Biden is facing conflict of interest questions tied to his son's involvement with a Ukranian energy company. (New York Times)
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce really wants to disentangle its brand from that of the GOP. (Washington Post
  • Congressional Democrats scored a win against President Trump in their emolumental lawsuit. (POLITICO)
  • Speaking of emoluments, seven foreign governments rented condos in the Trump World Tower in New York in 2017 without approval from Congress. (Reuters)
  • President Trump sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an effort to block them from sharing financial details with the House of Representatives. (POLITICO)
  • Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was cleared of wrongdoing in an ethics investigation by the Pentagon IG. (Government Executive)
  • Cook County, Illinois opened up its assessment code and models, providing new transparency into property tax decisions. (Government Technology)
  • Virginia's courts exempted themselves from state public records law. (MuckRock)
  • In a settlement with civil rights groups, Texas agreed to stop its voter roll purge. (Washington Post)


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