Today in OpenGov: IT’s a first


In today's edition, Kris Kobach is running for Senate and breaking the rules, President Trump finally gets his first Chief Technology Officer, the leader of Hong Kong's banned independence party is arrested, and more. 

washington watch

Former Kansas Secretary of State, failed gubernatorial candidate, and ex-vice-chair of President Trump's "election fraud" committee Kris Kobach. 
  • Kris Kobach is running for Senate and he might have already broken campaign finance laws by fundraising via his pro-border wall nonprofit. "Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is using a nonprofit group he advises to raise money for his U.S. Senate campaign, and legal experts say one recent fundraising push likely ran afoul of federal campaign finance laws. On Thursday, Kobach sent a fundraising appeal to an email list maintained by We Build The Wall, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group currently attempting to build a wall on the southern border using private funds. Kobach is on the group’s advisory board and serves as its general counsel." (Daily Beast)
  • Super PACs have already raised almost $20 million to spend on the 2020 presidential race. "Super PACs focused on the 2020 presidential race have collectively raised $18.1 million through June 30, according to a new Issue One analysis of federal campaign finance filings.  All the while, these groups — which are allowed to collect unlimited amounts of money from individuals, labor unions, and companies — combined to spend $3.6 million, including expenditures on political ads, polling, research, and consultants." (Issue One)
  • Does the Federal Data Strategy need a corresponding upgrade in data infrastructure to succeed? "However, for agencies to implement this data-first strategy, the right infrastructure must be in place — and legacy data service platforms were not built for today's goals. Today's federal IT infrastructure wasn't built from scratch to implement a cohesive, cross-government data strategy. It was built over time, usually program by program, and as a result is fragmented and not very agile. Agencies must be prepared to meet the strategy's goals, and to do so, they must focus on creating a data-centric infrastructure, which would have five key attributes" (Federal Computer Week)
  • Mitch McConnell's long history of arguing for more money in politics. "Senate Majority Leader McConnell is one of the few politicians who argues for more money in politics. His stance led to a decades-long fight with Sen. John McCain, who pushed for donation limits…McConnell has never strayed from his belief that there should be more money in politics, not less." (NPR)


U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios speaks at an event in Fargo, North Dakota. Credit: North Dakota Department of Transportation.
  • The Senate confirmed Michael Kratsios as President Trump's first CTO. "The Senate voted on Thursday to confirm Michael Kratsios as the Trump administration's first chief technology officer and the White House's top tech adviser. Kratsios had been serving in the position on an acting basis and as a deputy assistant to the president since 2017." (The Hill)
  • The Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed the Trump Organization for Stormy Daniels hush money documents. "State prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed President Trump’s family business on Thursday, reviving an investigation into the company’s role in hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people briefed on the matter. The subpoena, issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, demanded the Trump Organization provide documents related to money that had been used to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump." (New York Times)
  • The Pentagon is delaying its $10 billion cloud computing contract in the wake of Trump's complaints about Amazon's bid. "The Pentagon said on Thursday that it was delaying the award of a hotly contested $10 billion contract for a new generation of computing services for the military until the secretary of defense, Mark T. Esper, could review the matter. The announcement came just a week after Mr. Esper’s confirmation and two weeks after President Trump said he would be looking “very seriously” at the contract process to move the military to a cloud-computing system." (New York Times)

around the world

Andy Chan. Image credit: Voice of America
  • The leader of an opposition party that has been banned in Hong Kong was arrested amid protests. "The founder of a banned Hong Kong political party was among those arrested after a police raid, an activist group said, in the latest string of detentions following eight weeks of unrest in the Asian financial center. Andy Chan, the founder of the Hong Kong National Party, was among those arrested and brought to Ma On Shan police station, the Students Independence Union said on its Facebook page with a photo of Chan early Friday. Chan’s party was hit with an unprecedented ban last year and his speech at the city’s foreign correspondents’ club led authorities to deny a visa renewal to the journalist group’s acting president." (Bloomberg)
  • How more tax transparency can help fix the global tax system. "The international tax system is broken and in need of urgent updating to address issues which allow globalised businesses to move their profits and intellectual property around the world, often to locations where they pay the least tax…Tax justice advocates – such as those that the Open Knowledge Foundation helped convene for our Open Data for Tax Justice project – argue that the world’s tax systems need to be fundamentally restructured and have also pushed for a variety of measures sometimes summed up as the ABCs of tax transparency." (Open Knowledge)
  • How Legal Information Institutes are making the law accessible online in Africa. "If you wanted to find out what a specific law covered, how would you do it? Google what you thought the law was and hope that it came up in an internet search? Go to the local public library and look for law books? Ask a friend? In many cases around the world, especially in developing countries, it is almost impossible to get access to the law through these channels. Many sub-Saharan African countries do not routinely publish their legislation online, and fewer still publish the case-law judgments made by the courts…As a financial supporter of a number of African LIIs since 2013, the Indigo Trust, a UK-based philanthropic foundation, commissioned a report to examine the impacts of the LIIs, and whether those impacts could reasonably be amplified with greater investment. The research identified clear, positive impacts resulting from the existence and use of the LIIs, most notably in South Africa, where the LII proved to be a key tool in increasing access to the legal profession for economically disadvantaged groups." (mySociety)


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