In today's edition, we find an increasing disparity in Spanish-language HIV/AIDS information on federal websites, President Trump looks for ways to dump the head of the Federal Reserve, New Jersey sheds light on dark money, and more.
- The Web Integrity Project’s monitoring processes reveal an increasing disparity in Spanish-language HIV/AIDs content. "The weekly monitoring process begins with a team of analysts proactively monitoring and reviewing the latest changes to a given domain and classifying each change according to our in-house system. A set of changes is captured by software, which monitors close to 30,000 federal government webpages and provides “snapshots,” or captures of the page, each time a change occurs. The analysts examine each change, one-by-one, in meticulous detail, making decisions about whether the change is substantial enough for further vetting…The careful analysis process also, however, turned up something else of concern. The retrospective analysis of the CDC HIV/AIDS site showed that during the overhaul, CDC made accessing Spanish versions of the page more difficult and significantly reduced the amount of Spanish-language content on the HIV/AIDs site." (Sunlight Foundation)
- Problems at the Congressional Research Service to be aired in a rare public hearing on Thursday. "Thursday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing into the Congressional Research Service is the first in more than a decade — and is long overdue, according to former employees who say the agency is mismanaged, stifles expert research and results in a lesser work product. The hearing will examine increasing attrition rates, low employee morale and a lack of diversity at the agency, among other issues, according to a committee spokesperson." (Roll Call)
- The House voted down a bipartisan amendment that would have curtailed warrantless wiretapping of Americans. "The House on Tuesday rejected an amendment that would have limited the government's ability to collect Americans' personal communications without a warrant. The House voted 175-253 against the amendment introduced by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) amid opposition from national security hawks." (The Hill) Our take? We supported the amendment and are disappointed to see that it was rejected.
- President Trump reportedly asked his lawyers for options on removing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. "President Donald Trump asked White House lawyers earlier this year to explore his options for removing Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chairman, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be an unprecedented move. In February, the White House counsel’s office examined the legality of stripping Powell of his chairmanship and leaving him as a Fed governor, less than two months after Trump discussed firing him, the people said…The Federal Reserve Act provides explicit protection for all Fed governors against removal by the president except 'for cause.' Courts have interpreted the phrase to require proof of some form of legal misconduct or neglect of basic duties." (Bloomberg)
- Trump officially launched his 2020 reelection campaign yesterday. To mark the occasion, here are nine items of interest about his financial life. "as Trump the president today ceremonially announces his run for re-election in Orlando, Florida, there’s no denying that his finances — both personal and political — have been central to some of the most contentious, confounding and plain ugly episodes of his career…While there are easily 99 facts worth knowing about Trump’s personal and political finances, here are nine…" (Center for Public Integrity)
- Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination… "In a shock announcement on Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that he has named Army Secretary Mark Esper to be his new acting defense secretary, and that the current acting secretary, Patrick Shanahan, “has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process” to hold the role permanently amid explosive revelations about his turbulent 2015 divorce." (Government Executive) …Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, will be replaced on an acting basis by Mark Esper, a former Raytheon lobbyist. (OpenSecrets)
- Two watchdog groups are suing the Trump administration over missing notes from a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin. "A new lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke the law by allowing President Donald Trump to seize the notes from a key meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and failing to take any steps to preserve records of their other face-to-face meetings. The lawsuit filed by American Oversight and Democracy Forward, two progressive non-profit government watchdog organizations, says that the Federal Records Act requires Pompeo to preserve the meeting notes prepared by State Department employees." (Time)
states and cities
- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to shine light on dark money, but expressed his expectation that lawmakers would roll back his least favorite parts. "Murphy puts his signature to a measure he doesn’t really like in anticipation that legislators will eliminate its less palatable aspects with a 'cleanup' bill…Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on Monday requirements that dark-money groups report who is bankrolling them, as he promised to do last week to avoid facing an embarrassing veto override. But he also said he expects lawmakers to quickly roll back much of the new law, as he says they promised." (NJSpotlight)
- This New Jersey Democratic power broker shaped tax breaks to his benefit, according to new report. "A New Jersey political boss and some of his allies shaped a law to grant tax breaks for redevelopment in one of America’s most distressed cities, then benefited from a state agency’s sloppy oversight, an investigative panel declared in its first public report. The panel identified Democratic power broker George Norcross as a common link to hundreds of millions of dollars of incentives awarded on companies’ promises to boost jobs. (Bloomberg)
- New Hampshire lawmakers want to make it easier for consumers to access data on their own utility usage. "Most people think of their electric meter as one-way device. It records your electricity usage, and someone from the utility comes to read it so you can pay your bill accordingly. But legislation that has passed the House and Senate and is now awaiting Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature could turn electric meters into something consumers pay more attention to as they try to lower their electric bills. SB 284 would require the creation of a statewide utility database that would allow customers to access and use information from their electric meters about how and when they consume energy." (Government Technology)
- Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed almost 200 bills touching on public records access this year. "The 86th Texas Legislative session ended on May 27th, and just last week, Governor Greg Abbot finished signing bills into law. According to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, 193 of those bills discussed were related to public records." (MuckRock)
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