Today in OpenGov: Cash cows.


In today's edition, Idaho turns to tech to tackle its rulemaking processes, money talks in Washington, Finland fights fake news, and more. 

states and cities

The Idaho State Capitol building. 
  • Idaho is turning to tech to simplify its state rulemaking processes. "Idaho Gov. Brad Little has unveiled new steps aimed at fostering greater transparency and accountability in the state’s administrative rulemaking, primarily using technology to do so. In a press release, the governor’s office detailed a set of directives given to the Idaho Office of the Administrative Rules (OAR) Coordinator. They include four changes, all of which take a human-centered approach to simplifying state government rulemaking for easier consumption by the public. Of the four steps, two of them have tech at the center." (Government Technology)
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has a habit of attacking MTA contractors while taking their money for his election campaigns. "After securing a $23 million contract to clear clogged subway drains in October 2017, William Haugland and his son Billy…sought to raise as much as a quarter of a million dollars for Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign…Neither the family nor their companies had ever donated to Mr. Cuomo before. Haugland Group was suddenly one of Mr. Cuomo’s largest contributors as he ran for a third term. But it was hardly alone. Mr. Cuomo has raised millions of dollars from companies that work for the transit agency, benefiting from the fact that New York does not limit donations from contractors that do business with state entities." (New York Times)
  • Puerto Rico's governor-in-waiting won't take the job, setting up potentially chaotic succession. "Wanda Vazquez, Puerto Rico’s governor-in-waiting, said she doesn’t want the job, escalating a political crisis that has shaken the U.S. territory in recent weeks. In a Sunday Twitter post, Vazquez, who faces her own controversies, said she hoped that Governor Ricardo Rossello would nominate a different successor before he steps down Aug. 2…The official next in succession is Francisco Pares, the treasury secretary, who, at 31, is not old enough to be governor. The minimum age is 35." (Bloomberg)
  • San Francisco police may have kept judge in the dark when seeking warrant to monitor journalist's phone. "A judge in California may have been kept in the dark when she issued a search warrant allowing San Francisco police to monitor the phone of a journalist who was suspected of obtaining a leaked police report, according to newly unsealed court records and the journalist's lawyer. Attorney Tom Burke, who represents freelance journalist Bryan Carmody, says Superior Court Judge Rochelle East might not have been made aware of his client's profession when the police sought the warrant." (NPR)

washington watch

Image via Pixabay.
  • This PAC raised millions from small dollar donors to oppose then-President Obama. Almost all of it went to fundraisers' pockets. "After recruiting thousands of donors for the American Conservative Union — the powerful organization behind the annual CPAC conference — a Republican political operative pushed the same contributors to give millions to a PAC that promised to go after then-President Barack Obama, but then steered much of their donations to himself and his partners. The PAC, called the Conservative Majority Fund, has raised nearly $10 million since mid-2012 and continues to solicit funds to this day, primarily from thousands of steadfast contributors to conservative causes, many of them senior citizens. But it has made just $48,400 in political contributions to candidates and committees. Public records indicate its main beneficiaries are the operative Kelley Rogers, who has a history of disputes over allegedly unethical fundraising, and one of the largest conservative fundraising companies, InfoCision Management Corp., which charged millions of dollars in fundraising fees." (ProPublica and POLITICO)
  • How close is the Supreme Court to killing off what's left of campaign finance limits? "During the George W. Bush administration, then–Solicitor General Paul Clement successfully defended the constitutionality of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law, which tightened electioneering and fundraising regulations. Can Clement now get traction on a new case, Thompson v. Hebdon, that could partially reverse that earlier victory and help lead to more big money in politics? It seems possible, if not likely, that he will get the Supreme Court closer to killing what’s left of campaign-finance limits." (The Atlantic) Meanwhile, 7 Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls have vowed to move quickly on political reform legislation if elected. (New York Times)
  • These lawmakers turned lobbyists are using their zombie campaigns in their work for foreign governments. "Members of Congress who depart Capitol Hill for a lobbying job have a few advantages: deep knowledge of legislative inner workings, rapport with former colleagues and sometimes, according to a new report, a chest of leftover campaign money. At least 17 former lawmakers lobbying for foreign governments or foreign political parties maintain dormant campaign accounts — so-called “zombie campaigns,” according to a report published Friday by the Campaign Legal Center. And about half of them have used funds from those campaigns to make donations to the same legislators they lobby on behalf of foreign clients." (Roll Call)
  • Tom Price wants the FEC to let him send $1.7 million in leftover campaign cash to a new "social welfare" group. Turns out there's some recent precedent for the move. "Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price asked the Federal Election Commission for permission to transfer $1.7 million in leftover campaign funds to a new nonprofit “social welfare” group he’s starting, setting off a sharp debate at the Federal Election Commission this week over whether the move would be legal. But Price may find comfort from an unlikely source: former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who just made such a transfer. Her lawyers point to a provision in the law they say allows it. In April, Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who lost her 2018 bid for re-election and started the year with nearly $6.5 million still stashed in her campaign account, transferred $750,000 to One Country Inc., a nonprofit social welfare group she helped found earlier this year." (Center for Public Integrity)

around the world

  • Finland has found success fighting against fake news. What lessons can other democracies draw from their example? "…a multi-pronged, cross-sector approach the country is taking to prepare citizens of all ages for the complex digital landscape of today – and tomorrow. The Nordic country, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, is acutely aware of what’s at stake if it doesn’t…As the trolling ramped up in 2015, President Sauli Niinisto called on every Finn to take responsibility for the fight against false information. A year later, Finland brought in American experts to advise officials on how to recognize fake news, understand why it goes viral and develop strategies to fight it. The education system was also reformed to emphasize critical thinking. Although it’s difficult to measure the results in real-time, the approach appears to be working, and now other countries are looking to Finland as an example of how to win the war on misinformation." (CNN)
  • More than 1,000 arrested at Moscow protests. "Moscow police say more than 1,000 people have been arrested in a day of protests against the exclusion of several opposition candidates from the ballot for this fall's city council elections. The protests Saturday lasted more than seven hours, first in the area of the mayor's office and then moving to a square about a kilometer (half-mile) away." (Bloomberg)
  • As Hong Kong protests continue fallout expands globally. "Tensions between Hong Kong and the government in Beijing are increasingly spilling outside China’s borders. China’s foreign ministry this week accused the U.S. of being a “black hand” behind protests that have rocked Hong Kong since early June, while Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged Beijing to “do the right thing.” An encounter at an Australian university between supporters and critics of the Hong Kong demonstrators ended with punches being thrown." (Bloomberg)
  • Lack of diversity in Pakistani media ownership is a recipe for censorship according to new report. "Aided by lax legal restrictions, Pakistan is a “high-risk country” in terms of media pluralism as more than half of mass media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few — a model which has resulted in closure of businesses, a fall in journalism standards and rise in censorship, says a new research study. These findings, coupled with the ruling party's increasingly hostile attitude towards journalists that are critical of government institutions, have led to the deterioration of the country's once-vibrant media environment and paved the way for continued threats to press freedom." (Global Voices)


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