Today in OpenGov: Addition by addition.


In today's edition, the Honest Ads Act continues to add bipartisan support, a new report sheds light on the lack of transparency in these New York towns, when the president swings by revenue at Trump properties goes up, and more. 

washington watch

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner discuss the Honest Ads Act. Image via PFAW.
  • The Honest Ads Act continues to add co-sponsors on a bipartisan basis. "This week, Reps. Pete Olson (R-TX) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) joined in sponsoring the bipartisan Honest Ads Act, the best first step to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference. They join Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who also signed on to the bill this week, bringing the total number of sponsors to 33 members in the House and Senate — 16 Republicans and 17 Democrats." (Issue One)
  • Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to longstanding ban on direct corporate donations to political campaigns. "A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court delivered a surprising rebuke to those who think corporations just don’t have enough influence on U.S.  elections. In declining to hear the case of 1A Auto, Inc. vs. Sullivan, the court essentially guaranteed that corporations will be sidelined for at least the next election cycle. Some background: since the passage of the Tillman Act of 1907, corporate contributions have been banned in federal elections. The Tillman Act was violated most famously by President Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, in which illegal corporate money was used to fund even more illegal campaign activities, like the break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate." (Brennan Center for Justice)
  • 3 million nonprofit tax records are now available to search for free. "On Thursday, we launched a new feature for our Nonprofit Explorer database: The ability to search the full text of nearly 3 million electronically filed nonprofit tax filings sent to the IRS since 2011. Nonprofit Explorer already lets researchers, reporters and the general public search for tax information from more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, as well as allowing users to search for the names of key employees and directors of organizations." (ProPublica)
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) will reimburse $3,500 worth of campaign funds spent in violation of Minnesota law. "Minnesota regulators say Rep. Ilhan Omar violated state campaign finance rules and must reimburse $3,469.23 in campaign funds that were improperly directed to accounting expenses and out-of-state travel. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ordered Omar to reimburse her campaign committee for the payments Thursday. She must also pay a $500 civil fine." (Roll Call)

states and cities

Image via Pixabay.
  • Three New York State police departments are drawing scrutiny for lack of transparency, policies around key programs. "The Saratoga Springs, Schenectady and Troy police departments lack policies and data about the cases involving their officers, making it hard for the public to understand their operations, a New York Civil Liberties Union report says…The Schenectady department’s use of policing software meant to predict where crimes may happen without having a written policy to govern the data fed into it to identify crime areas is an example, the report claims…The report, “Behind the Badge,” draws on information secured by Freedom of Information Law requests filed with 23 police departments around the state asking for information in 39 areas. Sisitzky and Melanie Trimble, chapter director of the Capital Region chapter of the NYCLU, said it was dismaying to see the data the departments couldn’t provide." (Government Transparency)
  • An attempt to overhaul Nevada's public records law moved forward late last month after opponents were successful in toning down its toughest provisions. "An overhaul of state law governing public access to official recordswas rescued from near-defeat in a Senate committee late Friday, as amendments toning down its toughest provisions won unanimous consent to move it out to the full Senate. Senate Bill 287, parked in committee for weeks, looked all but dead in the face of opposition from local governments and other public agencies that saw its provisions burdensome and potentially punitive. The bill aims to strengthen enforcement, promoting compliance with the law and easing access to records." (Las Vegas Review-Journal via NFOIC)
  • Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend $500 million, mostly on a state and local lobbying effort, to kill coal power in the U.S. "Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, said on Friday he would donate $500 million to a new campaign to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States and halt the growth of natural gas. The new campaign, called Beyond Carbon, is designed to help eliminate coal by focusing on state and local governments…A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said most of the money would be spent over the next three years, though the time frame could be extended. It will fund lobbying efforts by environmental groups — in state legislatures, City Councils and public utility commissions — that aim to close coal plants and replace them with wind, solar and other renewable power. Part of the cash also will go toward efforts to elect local lawmakers who prioritize clean energy." (New York Times)
  • Maine's governor just signed the strictest data privacy bill in the United States. "Maine Internet service providers will face the strictest consumer privacy protections in the nation under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Janet Mills, but the new law will almost certainly be challenged in court. Several technology and communication trade groups warned in testimony before the Legislature that the measure may be in conflict with federal law and would likely be the subject of legal action. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, would require providers to ask for permission before they sell or share any of their customers’ data to a third party." (Government Technology)


President Trump golfing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, May 26, 2019, at the Mobara Country Club in Chiba, Japan. Image credit: Shealah Craighead/The White House.
  • President Trump's Irish golf course used his recent visit as a marketing tool, prompting pushback… "A property owned by the Trump family on the western coast of Ireland promoted President Trump's stay there on Friday, prompting criticism from ethics watchdogs over the blurred line between business and government interests. Trump Doonbeg tweeted — and then later deleted — two videos directly referencing the president, who spent Wednesday night and Thursday night at the resort and golf club." (The Hill)
  • …With or without questionable marketing campaigns, Trump properties have seen revenues rise after presidential visits. "Donald Trump is on a global tour of his own businesses — and it’s putting more money in his bank account. On Wednesday, the president traveled to his luxury resort on Ireland’s west coast for a visit that will bring world-wide publicity and increased security to the location, and, if past trends hold, more revenue. Revenue increased in 2018 at many of the Trump developments that he visited that year, according to Trump’s most recent personal financial disclosure forms." (POLITICO)
  • The Trump administration tried to block Kris Kobach from testifying to Congress about the Census citizenship question… "The White House tried to block former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from testifying to the House Oversight and Reform Committee about his conversations with President Donald Trump about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to a new letter released Friday….Kobach appeared before the committee on Monday, the panel’s Democrats said, but he largely adhered to the White House’s directives…" (POLITICO)
  • …Kobach ultimately testified and revealed that he had discussions with the Trump campaign about adding a citizenship question to the Census in 2016. "More than a year before the Trump administration formally asked the Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Kris Kobach discussed including the question with officials during President Trump's 2016 election campaign. Kobach disclosed the latest insight into the behind-the-scenes discussions about the hotly contested census question during an interview earlier this week as part of a House Oversight and Reform Committee investigation into the question." (NPR)


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