Today in OpenGov: The Untouchables?


In today's edition, nepotism at the DEA, a feeling of impunity in the White House, continued protests in Hong Kong, and more. 

washington watch

Image via Pixabay.
  • Wall Street is starting to pick its favorites from the 2020 Democratic presidential field. "The behind-the-scenes competition for Wall Street money in the 2020 presidential race is reaching a fevered peak this week as no less than nine Democrats are holding New York fund-raisers in a span of nine days, racing ahead of a June 30 filing deadline when they must disclose their latest financial hauls. With millions of dollars on the line, top New York donors are already beginning to pick favorites, and three candidates are generating most of the buzz: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind." (New York Times)
  • A senior Drug Enforcement Administration official was cited for nepotism in new IG report. "An unnamed senior official at the Drug Enforcement Administration was found guilty of ethical misconduct in hiring and supervising his son and several former agency employees as contractors, violating agency guidance and the Federal Acquisition Regulation while 'wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars.' A June 11 report from the Justice Department inspector general chronicled results of an investigation into whether the senior official hired the spouse of a retired DEA official and came to work under the influence of alcohol. Also probed was whether the supervisor of the accused official knew of the misconduct but took no action." (Government Executive)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) is facing House Ethics Committee probe over settled workplace harassment case. "The House Ethics Committee is examining allegations that Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the Natural Resources Committee chairman, created a hostile workplace, his spokesman confirmed on Friday. The ethics probe comes four years after the Natural Resources Committee shelled out more than $48,000 to settle a complaint by a former female staffer over a hostile work environment linked to Grijalva’s alcohol use. The settlement was formally disclosed by the Ethics Committee in a December 2018 letter where it said the payments were permissible." (POLITICO)
  • Congress needs to modernize in order to regain its lost power. "As Congress struggles to regain its place as the first (or even a coequal) branch of government, public attention has centered on the House committees issuing contempt citations to seek court enforcement of their Trump administration subpoenas. But a little-noticed special committee toiling quietly out of the limelight might stand the best chance of helping Congress seize back some of the power it has ceded to the executive branch. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, set up in January as part of a deal between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House moderates, is tackling an unglamorous but crucial question: How can Congress update its outmoded rules and infrastructure, and start to function again?" (Sludge + The American Prospect)


  • The Trump campaign is sticking local police departments with the bill for his MAGA rallies. "…when Lebanon City Hall sent Trump’s campaign a $16,191 invoice for police and other public safety costs associated with his event, Trump didn’t respond. Trump’s campaign likewise ignored Lebanon officials’ follow-up reminders to cover the sum — one rich enough to fund the entire police force for nearly two days in this modest city of 21,000, between Dayton and Cincinnati. The bill remains unpaid…At least nine other city governments — from Mesa, Arizona, to Erie, Pennsylvania — are still waiting for Trump to pay public safety-related invoices they’ve sent his presidential campaign committee in connection with his political rallies…" (Center for Public Integrity)
  • President Trump and his aides are signaling willingness to act with impunity during reelection bid. "Slumping in the polls and at war with his political rivals, President Trump has signaled a willingness to act with impunity in his drive for reelection, taking steps over the past week that demonstrate a disregard for legal boundaries meant to hold him accountable and protect the sanctity of American democracy…the actions set off new alarm bells among legal analysts and Trump’s political rivals who warned that the president and his aides have emerged from the scorched-earth battle over the special counsel’s 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election with a conviction that they need not feel constrained by the safeguards built into the nation’s political system as they look to 2020." (Washington Post)
  • Trump administration looking to dramatically slash expert advisory committees. "The Trump Administration wants to dramatically cut the expert panels that widely advise federal agencies on pollution, public health, spending, and planning, according to a White House executive order released late on Friday. Often called "the fifth arm of government," there are about 1,000 of these advisory committees that act as a reality check on agencies, operating under a 1972 law that makes their deliberations transparent to the public." (BuzzFeed)
  • Ivanka Trump made $4 million from the president's DC hotel last year. "Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in her father’s Washington hotel last year, according to a disclosure released by the White House on Friday…Together, Trump and husband Jared Kushner earned between $28.8 million and $135.1 million in outside income while working as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, their disclosures, which covers 2018, show." (Bloomberg)

around the world

A few hundred protesters remained after larger protests disbursed overnight. Image from via Global Voices.
  • Massive protests continued in Hong Kong over the weekend even after leaders pulled controversial extradition bill. "Despite Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s promise to suspend the legislation of the extradition (amendment) bill on June 15 after a series of clashes between riot police and protesters, nearly two million local residents continued to rally on the streets on Sunday June 16. They demanded Lam's resignation, a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, and the renunciation of the labelling of the June 12 protests as a “riot”. The Hong Kong police’s crackdown on protesting crowds with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and bean bags on June 12 has left the society in a state of shock." (Global Voices)
  • European Ombudsman criticizes European Commission for failing to share legal advice on reform of its Transparency Register. "The European Ombudsman has found the European Commission guilty of maladministration for not releasing to Access Info the Commission’s legal advice on the reform of the European Union’s register of lobbyists, known as the Transparency Register. Today’s decision by the Ombudsman comes after a three-year tussle over whether or not Access Info should have been provided with the Commission’s analysis about the legal basis for regulating lobbying in Brussels, the world’s second largest lobby capital after Washington." (Access Info)
  • Austria's embattled ex-vice chancellor turns down seat in EU Parliament amid ongoing investigation. "Former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said he would not take up the seat he won in May's European Parliament election…Strache was forced to resign as vice chancellor and leader of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) in May after footage emerged showing him on the Spanish island of Ibiza attempting to trade lucrative government contracts for campaign support from a woman he believed to be a wealthy Russian." (POLITICO)


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