Today in OpenGov: It’s GRRREAT


In today's edition, the RNC reports healthy fundraising and spending numbers while the GOP's congressional committee struggles, the EPA sees an uptick in complaints of scientific interference, the Washington State Supreme Court decides if lawmakers are subject to public records rules, and more. 

washington watch

Image via Pixabay.
  • The Republican National Committee is raising, and spending, big bucks as the presidential cycle takes up more of the calendar… "The Republican National Committee announced it raised $14.6 million in May, a record total for the month in a non-presidential election year, and ended the period with $37 million in the bank. The committee said it also spent $12.3 million last month, and its cumulative spending of $62.9 million so far in 2019 is the largest outlay by the party for the first five months of any year — including those with presidential elections." (Bloomberg)
  • …Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is struggling as Democrats maintain momentum in the race for the House. "The House GOP campaign arm is under fire from Republicans who are growing increasingly anxious about the party’s plan to win back the chamber in 2020. Republicans still don’t have an answer to Democrats’ online fundraising behemoth ActBlue. GOP leaders are bickering behind closed doors. The head of recruitment has decided to retire. And some rank-and-file lawmakers are starting to express alarm about the party’s strategy as the campaign ramps up." (POLITICO)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was quick to pass the GREAT Act on to the full Senate for consideration. "Today, the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act (S.1829) was favorably reported out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Senate bill was introduced last Thursday, June 13 and now awaits a vote by the full Senate." (Data Coalition)
  • This Representative is reviving a centrist climate caucus in the House. He also has millions invested in the fossil fuel industry. "With momentum building for bold action on climate change, like the Green New Deal, Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney announced this week that he is reviving the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of representatives created in 2015 to 'educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk.' As Rooney revives the caucus, which he will co-chair with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), he is heavily invested in fossil fuel companies that could greatly benefit from the caucus’ efforts to promote a more moderate, market-based approach to addressing climate change." (Sludge)


The Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington, DC. Image credit: the EPA.
  • The EPA's science integrity office has seen a spike in reports of interference during the Trump administration. "Inquiries to the Environmental Protection Agency office that protects science have spiked during the Trump administration amid widespread reports that political appointees have interfered with the work of career employees. The allegations—and requests for advice—were lodged with EPA’s Scientific Integrity office and have focused increasingly on instances of interference. Office leaders said on Thursday the increase was attributable to a variety of factors, including a larger outreach and education effort." (Government Executive)
  • President Trump loves to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, but does he have the authority to demote him? "President Trump has been attacking the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome H. Powell, because he is angry that the central bank’s efforts to keep the economy healthy over the long term may dampen the stock market and economic growth in the short term just as he gears up for re-election…Most senior government officials are subject to political control by Mr. Trump because he can fire them at will. But the Fed is one of several independent executive agencies that work differently. Congress wrote into the law that its governors, once confirmed by the Senate and appointed by the president, cannot be removed except “for cause,” like personal misconduct." (New York Times)
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Hatch Act complaint against Ivanka Trump over recent tweet. "A watchdog group filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) on Thursday claiming Ivanka Trump, who is President Trump’s daughter and serves as his assistant, violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in elections in their official capacity.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) cited a tweet from Ivanka Trump two days before the president’s 2020 campaign launch" (The Hill)

states and cities

Image via Pixabay.
  • Mass Surveillance: coming soon to a city near you. "Tech entrepreneur Ross McNutt wants to spend three years recording human outdoor movements in a major U.S. city, KMOX news radio reports. If that sounds too dystopian to be real, you’re behind the times. McNutt, who runs Persistent Surveillance Systems, was inspired by his stint in the Air Force tracking Iraqi insurgents. He tested mass surveillance technology over Compton, California, in 2012. In 2016, the company flew over Baltimore, feeding information to police for months (without telling city leaders or residents) while demonstrating how the technology works to the FBI and Secret Service." (The Atlantic)
  • Watchdogs are suing secretaries of state for access to information on voting machine security. "Free Speech For People has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC) to uncover communications about election security to and from the National Association of Secretaries of State. The lawsuit under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act charges the Indiana Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, with unlawfully denying access to public records regarding the reliability and security of voting machines. The Secretary has twenty days to respond." (Via Election Law Blog)
  • The Washington Supreme Court is considering whether or not state lawmakers are subject to the state's Public Records Act. "The Washington state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in an appeal of a 2018 Superior Court decision that held that state lawmakers, just as with nearly every other public official and agency, are required to provide documents to the public, including correspondence, written reports, investigative reports and more under the Public Records Act, adopted in 1972 by citizen initiative. In 2017, a coalition of newspapers, TV and radio media, the Associated Press and open government advocates — after being denied a specific request for legislative documents — sued, challenging the notion that the law doesn’t apply to state lawmakers or the Legislature in general." (Everett Washington Herald)


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