In today's edition, a bipartisan push to crack down on money laundering and dark money, a big day of fundraising for President Trump, an open data strategy exchange in Nepal, and more.
- A bipartisan push against money laundering and dark money shell companies. "A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to require obscure corporations and limited-liability companies to disclose their true owners to law enforcement to snuff out laundered cash and political “dark money” flowing into the U.S. from foreign-influenced shell companies. Members of Congress have introduced a number of bills mandating disclosure of companies’ beneficial owners — the person or persons who enjoy the benefits of ownership and control the company — to federal investigators. Lawmakers are mostly attempting to crack down on money laundering and the financing of other illegal activities. But the proposed legislation could also impact foreign interference in U.S. politics." (OpenSecrets)
- Former Democratic Senate staffer sentenced to 4 years in prison for doxing 5 GOP senators. "A former aide to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday for hacking Senate computers and releasing personal information online about five Republican senators out of anger spurred by their roles in the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan said the sentence for Jackson Cosko, 27, was needed to send a signal that criminal harassment driven by political motives would be punished severely in an era marked by extreme political polarization." (POLITICO)
- This Joe Biden donor is also a lobbyist working to limit attempts to crack down on foreign influence. "As former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns to become the chief executive of the United States government, he is getting help from someone who is working to block reforms aimed at reducing the influence of foreign corporations on U.S. elections and policymakers. Biden’s first presidential campaign fundraiser this year, held in April at the Philadelphia home of Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen, was hosted by a cast of Democratic Party high rollers including Ken Jarin, co-leader of government affairs at corporate lobbying firm Ballard Spahr. Among the clients of the lobbying team Jarin leads at Ballard Spahr is the Fair FARA Coalition, a mysterious trade group representing U.S. subsidiaries of major foreign companies. The coalition opposes proposals to make lobbyists for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires far more rigorous disclosure than domestic lobbying reports demand." (Sludge)
- New report highlights the potential of agile development practices to boost open data use. "Over the past three years, a small, dedicated team of federal innovators has been steadily transforming the way government agencies apply open government data. The Opportunity Project (TOP), housed in the Census Bureau at the U.S. Department of Commerce, has adopted agile development principles to help government, communities, and the technology industry build high-impact, data-driven digital tools and platforms." (FedScoop) You can read the whole report, via the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Center for Open Data Enterprise, right here.
- President Trump reportedly raised nearly $25 million in the day after officially launching his reelection bid. "President Trump’s campaign announced Wednesday that he had raised $24.8 million over 24 hours as he kicked off his re-election bid, an enormous haul that punctuates the financial advantage he is expected to enjoy over his Democratic challengers in 2020." (New York Times)
- Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks talked to Congress, but not about her time at the White House. "Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, invoked what some Democrats are calling 'blind immunity' during some of her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, frustrating Democrats looking to investigate obstruction of justice claims against President Donald Trump…The night before the hearing, White House lawyers sent a letter to Jerry Nadler, the committee chair, declaring Hicks immune to any testimony surrounding her time at the White House. The two-page letter cites a decade-old Department of Justice memo giving the president freedom to assert executive privilege with regards to congressional interviews with senior White House staffers." (BuzzFeed)
- Brand new acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper might already have to recuse himself from a high stakes negotiation due past job as Raytheon lobbyist. "Incoming acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper's past as a lobbyist for one of the Pentagon's top contractors is already threatening to complicate one of his department's most sensitive diplomatic tasks — a high-stakes negotiation with Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system. Esper will probably need to recuse himself from the talks because the outcome has implications for Raytheon, which employed him for seven years before he joined the Pentagon in 2017, defense and ethics experts said Wednesday." (POLITICO)
around the world
- Exchanging open data strategies with Nepalese civil society groups. "Kathmandu, Nepal’s open data ecosystem is a growing space, where I.T. professionals and advocates come together to support Nepal’s governments at all levels and work toward social impact. The Sunlight Foundation was invited by Development Initiatives and The Asia Foundation to provide a week-long series of workshops and consultations about user-centered design for Data for Development in Nepal partners. As a What Works Cities partner, Sunlight’s Open Cities team provides hands-on support to U.S. city governments, and we’ve generated a number of best practices and lessons learned through that experience. So naturally, we were excited to meet with Nepali open data organizations to share our experiences working with local governments and learn from our Nepali counterparts to find where our work might share common challenges and solutions." (Sunlight Foundation)
- A Hong Kong press watchdog is calling for an investigation into police abuse against reporters during recent protests. "Hong Kong’s press freedom watchdog filed a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) on Monday claiming police caused bodily harm to 26 journalists during several days of protests against the city’s controversial extradition bill. The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said the alleged misconduct was a breach of the Basic Law. It called on the chief executive to set up an independent committee to ascertain whether a top-level order was the cause of the incidents." (Global Voices)
- What's the deal with citizens' assemblies? "Put 100 ordinary citizens in a room and together they will solve the most intractable political problems of our time and save democracy in the process. If only things were so simple. Citizens' assemblies, in which ordinary people are entrusted to carefully consider evidence on an issue and deliver policy recommendations, are the flavor of the month among political geeks across the world." (POLITICO)
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