Today in OpenGov: (watchdog) days


In today's edition, Bill de Blasio picks up a watchdog complaint, Don McGahn gets hit with a lawsuit, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis slides back through the revolving door, and more. 


Image via Pixabay.
  • Bill de Blasio's presidential bid benefited from an unusual arrangement and help from some major donors… "Mayor Bill de Blasio’s struggling presidential campaign benefited from a six-figure boost unavailable to candidates who set up routine exploratory committees and the move has already resulted in formal complaints to the Federal Election Commission. A POLITICO analysis found the mayor accepted roughly $234,000 in additional contributions from 37 donors who had already given the maximum permissible amount to his campaign account — $2,800 for a primary race. Those donors went above the federally established limit by giving to two political action committees that assisted in the presidential effort, but were not governed by the same rules." (POLITICO)
  • …The Campaign Legal Center filed a formal complaint with the FEC over the arrangement. "A government watchdog group alleged Wednesday that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign violated multiple federal campaign finance rules in an effort to camouflage the outsize role of wealthy donors fueling his run. The Campaign Legal Center filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the mayor’s camp of circumventing contribution limits by routing additional cash through a pair of political action committees. The committees, the federal Fairness PAC and the state NY Fairness PAC, were ostensibly created by the mayor to help elect other Democrats in New York and around the country." (POLITICO)
  • Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will rejoin the board of General Dynamics. "James Mattis is returning to the board of defense contractor General Dynamics, a position he held until becoming the defense secretary in January 2017. The move comes six years to the day since Mattis originally joined the company board…The retired Marine Corps general's return to General Dynamics, America’s fifth-largest defense contractor, comes amid increased scrutiny of former U.S. Defense Department officials joining defense contractors and former industry executives going to work in top Pentagon jobs." (Government Executive)
  • The IRS Whistleblower office tries root out $400 billion worth of unpaid taxes on a $6 million budget. "In 2016, the Internal Revenue Service reported that unpaid taxes cost the federal government over $400 billion a year. According to documents recently released through FOIA, that same year, the IRS Whistleblower’s Office, which offers compensation to individuals who report on tax evasion, had a budget just over $6 million…Despite the relatively small budget, the Whistleblower’s Office still manages to punch well above its weight class – last fiscal year, the office reported $1.4 billion in recovered taxes, with $312 million paid out." (MuckRock)
  • The House Judiciary Committee is suing former White House counsel Don McGahn in an effort to break down "absolute immunity" claims. "The House Judiciary Committee sued on Wednesday to force the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to testify before Congress, asking a federal judge to strike down the Trump administration’s claim that top presidential aides are 'absolutely immune' from its subpoenas…The House lawsuit signaled that more was at stake than the testimony of a single witness. It suggested that the Trump administration was seeking to establish a broad precedent shielding top presidential advisers from Congress, even those no longer working for the White House." (New York Times)
  • The U.S. Soccer Federation just hired lobbyists to argue against its World Cup winning women's team's calls for equal pay. "The U.S. Soccer Federation has hired two Washington lobbying firms to push back against claims that it pays the women’s national team less than half of what it pays the men’s team. The women’s team was celebrated as feminist icons for winning the World Cup last month, even as it battled U.S. Soccer over what the players say is unfair pay. The players filed a lawsuit in March claiming that, under their previous contract, a player on the women’s team could have earned in a year as little as 38 percent of what a men’s team player made." (POLITICO)
  • A Kuwaiti defense contractor that pled guilty to stealing U.S. government funds is building its U.S. influence operation. "A Kuwaiti defense contractor that plead guilty to stealing U.S. government funds is assembling a team of lobbyists and foreign influence operatives from high-profile, and sometimes controversial, firms. Agility Public Warehousing recently inked contracts with three firms to represent its interests through lobbying and foreign influence campaigns, the first time the Kuwaiti defense contractor has been listed as a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. All of the firms have connections to people indicted or convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election of President Donald Trump…The Kuwaiti contractor agreed to pay a $95 million fine and gave up $249 million in payments for military contracts after pleading guilty in 2017 to defrauding the federal government. It continued to be awarded lucrative government contracts as the case proceeded, however." (Center for Responsive Politics)


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