Today in OpenGov: No noise.


In today's edition, we join other organizations calling for presidential candidates to disclose their bundlers, Maine's 2020 Senate race is getting expensive already, Kellyanne Conway won't talk to Congress about her Hatch Act violations, and more. 

Washington watch

The 2018 version of the “U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs” factsheet as captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine on May 21, 2018.
  • The State Department recently removed authoritative refugee related fact sheets from its website. "As documented in our most recent report, the State Department removed two detailed and authoritative factsheets relating to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) from its website, despite their having been widely cited in academia and in amicus curiae briefs…Thanks to the archiving practices the State Department has employed in the past, and the efforts of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we know that the factsheets had been published almost annually since 2013 and have their origin in content added in 2008, during the George W. Bush administration. The 2008 content gradually evolved into a stand-alone factsheet that was updated regularly with the most recent statistics and developments." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Sunlight joined a cross-partisan coalition urging presidential candidates to disclose information on their top campaign fundraisers. Sunlight "and 15 other organizations from across the ideological spectrum have again joined to urge all Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to publicly disclose information about their top campaign fundraisers on a regular basis during the 2020 presidential election. Presidential candidates have long utilized individuals known as “bundlers” to help them raise the funds necessary to wage competitive campaigns, and it has long been a bipartisan tradition for candidates to voluntarily disclose information about their campaign bundlers. This transparency practice has been embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, including President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Senator John McCain, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." (Issue One)
  • Supreme Court decision deals a blow to FOIA by overturning precedent, expanding "confidential" exemption. "Earlier this year, we reported on an upcoming Supreme Court case, Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, which some in the FOIA community feared might severely restrict the public’s ability to track the flow of tax dollars into private companies. Today, SCOTUS passed down its ruling, and it appears those fears were justified." (MuckRock)
  • Progress on data privacy legislation has slowed in the House and Senate. "Lawmakers and industry groups want to pass a federal data privacy law this year, but progress on the measure has slowed. It’s now unclear whether legislation resembling California’s tough requirements on the tech industry can clear hurdles in Congress and be signed into law before the end of the year.  Small bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers are working on draft legislation that was supposed to have been unveiled in May but has been delayed and is now expected to be released sometime before the August congressional recess." (Roll Call)

states and cities

The Portland Head Lighthouse in Portland, Maine. Image credit: Jeff Gunn.
  • Maine is expected to play host to a competitive, and expensive, Senate race in 2020. "Maine’s 2020 Senate race is already shaping up to be an expensive one as Democrats hope to flip a key seat in a swing state and Republicans seek to hang on to their narrow Senate majority. Adding to the spending spree is the fundraising that both sides racked up related to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court last fall." (OpenSecrets)
  • Puerto Rico's governor ousted his treasury secretary amid reports of a federal corruption probe. "Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello asked for the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Raul Maldonado just hours after the cabinet member disclosed a federal corruption investigation into his own department…The moves came after Maldonado told the WKAQ-580 radio station that he was collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as it looked into influence peddling, destruction of documents and other crimes within his own department." (Bloomberg)
  • New network looks to provide support for civic data privacy efforts. "We’re working to answer some important questions about civic data. How do we leverage the benefits of a data-rich society while giving people the confidence of knowing their privacy is protected? How can we reduce traffic, fill potholes faster, and deliver services more efficiently in an equitable, privacy-conscious way? MetroLab, in partnership with the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and with the support of the National Science Foundation, is proud to announce the Civic Data Privacy Leaders Network, a collaborative that will provide an active, authoritative resource for municipal leaders to navigate emerging privacy issues, share practical guidance, and promote fair and transparent data practices." (MetroLab Network)


White House advisor Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image credit: Gage Skidmore.
  • The White House turned down a House committee's request for Kellyanne Conway to testify about her repeated Hatch Act violations. "The White House is directing Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, to reject a request to testify before a House committee about her repeated violations of a federal ethics law that bars government officials from engaging in political activities at work, further escalating a standoff between Congress and the Trump administration over oversight requests…The Oversight Committee is now preparing to subpoena Ms. Conway and will move to hold her in contempt if she does not comply, Mr. Cummings said." (New York Times)
  • President Trump signed an executive order aimed at up front disclosure of hospital procedure prices. "President Donald Trump called for hospitals to disclose to patients up front how much they charge for tests, surgeries and other procedures, in an executive order he signed on Monday. The federal regulations Trump is calling for push forward a relatively simple idea: that patients should know how much hospitals charge for common procedures. Those prices are typically trade secrets between hospitals and the insurers they negotiate with." (Bloomberg)
  • The Commerce Department kept a former official from answering more than 100 questions from Congress about the Census citizenship question… "A former senior Commerce Department official refused to answer more than 100 questions during an interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee that centered on the Trump administration’s controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to a transcript released Tuesday…But Uthmeier did tell the committee that both Ross and Earl Comstock, Ross’ policy chief, asked him to look into the legal arguments about a citizenship question in early 2017. Commerce Department lawyers objected to every follow-up question seeking more details about those conversations, but Democrats said Uthmeier’s response showed that Ross lied to Congress about the true origins of the citizenship question when he said it was added to the census 'solely' at the request of the Justice Department." (POLITICO)
  • …Meanwhile, a broad coalition is working to ensure that the citizenship question doesn't negatively effect the broader Census data collection if it is ultimately included. "The Trump administration’s decision to ask people about their citizenship status on the 2020 census has galvanized a national coalition of civil rights advocacy groups to build a coordinated effort to make sure immigrants and their families are counted by the US government, funded by progressive philanthropic organizations including the Ford Foundation and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. The question of whether the question can be added to the census is the highest-profile case still before the Supreme Court this month. Civil rights groups worry that the question would deter noncitizen immigrants, from undocumented people to green card holders and people living in the US on other visas, from taking part in the census." (BuzzFeed)


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