Today in OpenGov: Failure to relate.


In today's edition, new information emerges about the motives behind the Trump administration's Census citizenship question, governments are increasingly moving to block the Internet during emergencies, an unlikely pair appear to find common grown on revolving door reform, and more.  


Image via Mother Jones.
  • New documents show a desire to strengthen GOP power as the real motive behind the Trump administration push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. "The Supreme Court was dealt a curveball in its review of Trump administration plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census as new evidence surfaced about the government’s motive. The evidence shows that a Republican redistricting consultant 'played a significant role' in the decision to add the query to the decennial survey for the first time since 1950, according to a letter sent Thursday to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan by the New York Immigrant Coalition. The group is leading an array of parties suing to bar the question." (Bloomberg) Rick Hasen has more on the revelation, and its likely impact on the Supreme Court's reading of the issue, at Slate
  • The House Oversight Committee accused the Trump administration of obstructing an investigation into the removal of the Department of Education IG. "House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Thursday accused the Trump administration of blocking a congressional investigation into the attempted removal of the Education Department’s acting independent watchdog. Cummings (D-Md.) said that Education Department officials refused to turn over documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts earlier this year to replace the agency’s acting inspector general. The move by the administration came after the acting IG opened an investigation into Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to reinstate the federal powers of an accreditor of for-profit colleges." (POLITICO)
  • Federal prosecutors subpoena Mar-a-Lago and Trump Victory fundraising committee for documents related to entrepreneur and Trump donor Cindy Yang. "Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., this week sent subpoenas to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, and Trump Victory, a political fundraising committee, demanding they turn over all records relating to Republican Party donor Li “Cindy” Yang and several of her associates and companies, the Miami Herald has learned. Yang, a South Florida massage-parlor entrepreneur, is the target of a public corruption investigation seeking to determine if she funneled money from China to the president’s re-election campaign or otherwise violated campaign-finance laws. She became a GOP donor in the 2016 election cycle and opened a consulting company that promised Chinese businesspeople the chance to attend events at Mar-a-Lago and gain access to Trump and his inner circle." (Miami Herald)
  • Former DoD officials are decrying the deteriorating relationship between the Pentagon and the press. "Press engagement has become rare in the Defense Department under the current administration, however. At the time of Bolton’s email, it had been more than 11 months since an official Pentagon spokesperson conducted an on-camera briefing; today makes it a full year. Off-camera briefings, meanwhile, and less formal “gaggles” (which can be on or off the record) have decreased in both frequency and utility, according to multiple members of the Pentagon press corps—representing both mainstream and niche national security outlets—who spoke with CJR. Reporters, naturally, have bucked at the trend. Former DoD officials are also speaking out—in op-eds and on social media—with warnings that the flagging relations between the DoD and the press damages the agency’s credibility and sows confusion in the public sphere." (Columbia Journalism Review)

around the world

Image via Rezwan.
  • Governments around the world are increasingly moving to block the Internet during times of crisis. "When crisis strikes, governments around the world are increasingly reaching for the switches that limit or halt their citizens’ access to the internet.In 2016, there were 75 such cutoffs; last year, there were 188, according to the advocacy group Access Now. Just in the past two months, the governments of Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Indonesia, and others have temporarily reduced or eliminated connectivity to large swaths of their populations.Ostensibly, such cutoffs prevent the spread of disinformation, maintain public safety, and preserve law and order. In reality, they may do the opposite — and the U.S. national security community needs to understand why." (Defense One)
  • Detention of French photojournalists raises concerns about treatment of journalists amid protests. "On 20 April 2019, video journalist Gaspard Glanz was arrested while filming a demonstration in Paris’ Place de la République. Gaspard runs the photo news agency,Taranis News, which covers social movements in France…Glanz remained in custody until 22 April, when he was released. Along with his lawyer, he confirmed his intention to contest the ban, which was ultimately annulled by the criminal court of Paris on 29 April, due to insufficient grounds…The national press and media rights organizations have come out in support of Glanz. Many criticisms have been leveled against the ministry of the interior, which has argued that Glanz didn’t have a press card. The card implies that the bearer works for an employer, but French law does not require journalists to carry a press card in order to do their work in public spaces." (Global Voices)
  • Boris Johnson might be the next Prime Minister of the UK, but first he has to face charges that he lied to the public while in office. "A British court is ordering Boris Johnson to face accusations that while holding public office, he lied in order to sway voter opinion on Brexit. The case was brought by a "private prosecutor" who says Johnson abused the public's trust while holding official posts. Johnson has quickly emerged as a front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who is resigning next month. But with today's ruling, he must also face charges of misconduct in public office." (NPR)

washington watch

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) strike odd-couple Twitter bargain to tackle revolving door between Congress and K Street. "Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set aside their Twitter bickering Thursday to strike an unusual bargain: an agreement to work together on a bill to ban former members of Congress from lobbying for life. The Texas Republican and the New York Democrat made the pact on Twitter after Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen on the number of former lawmakers who’ve headed to K Street this year." (POLITICO)
  • Speaking of lobbyists, this high profile challenger to Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) is a former Podesta Group lobbyist. "Already backed by fundraising money from lobbyists and foreign agents, a former Podesta Group lobbyist launched his campaign to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on May 29. Jaime Harrison, a longtime revolving door member with a lengthy lobbying history, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President Donald Trump’s rival-turned-top supporter in 2020. Harrison seized upon Graham’s transition from a feuding 2016 primary opponent and staunch critic of Trump into one of the president’s strongest defenders in the Senate." (Open Secrets)
  • 6 members of Congress awarded 2019 Democracy Awards from the Congressional Management Foundation. "The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) today announced the winners for the Democracy Awards, CMF's annual honors program recognizing non-legislative achievement and performance in congressional offices and by Members of Congress." (Congressional Management Foundation)


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