Today in OpenGov: Controversy


In today's edition, Interior got some help on its controversial FOIA policy, New Hampshire's governor vetoed a nonpartisan redistricting bill, President Trump's fundraising stirs up controversy, and more. 

washington watch

Image credit:
  • The Interior Department turned to the FBI for help on its controversial FOIA policy. "The Interior Department took notes from the FBI, which handles reams of classified material and is known as a slower responder to public records requests, while developing its controversial policy for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to emails reviewed by The Hill. Internal emails obtained through a FOIA request by Earthjustice and shared with The Hill show that Interior employees were eager to talk to FBI staff who oversaw FOIA requests as it sought to deal with its own mounting public records requests." (The Hill)
  • Billionaire 2020 presidential hopeful Tom Steyer spent more than $7 million on ads during his first month in the race. "In the month since Tom Steyer jumped into the Democratic presidential field with a promise to spend $100 million on his own campaign, the billionaire activist and former hedge fund manager has made his name known across early primary states with millions in ad buys. But it remains to be seen whether Steyer, a major Democratic donor who made headlines in recent years for his calls to impeach President Donald Trump, can convert name recognition into a spot on the Democratic debate stage in September and a viable campaign in the long run." (OpenSecrets)
  • Former Obama White House counsel will go to trial over lies about his foreign lobbying. "Craig, who served as White House counsel during President Barack Obama’s first term, is set to face a jury Monday over criminal charges that could send him to prison for five years. He’s a rare Democrat caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. The former partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is accused of scheming to dupe the U.S. government about the extent of his work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian regime. His prosecution is the latest in a string of cases arising from probes into violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which was rarely enforced until recently." (Bloomberg)

states and cities

New Hampshire. Image via Pixabay.
  • New Hampshire's governor vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have created an independent redistricting commission for the state. "New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have created an independent commission to draw the state's legislative, congressional and Executive Council district maps following the 2020 elections.  In his veto, Sununu asserted that issues related to partisan gerrymandering were 'extremely rare' in New Hampshire and that an independent commission would run counter to the ideas stated in the state's constitution." (The Hill)
  • The NRA will face off against Los Angeles, CA over a city law requiring contractors to disclose ties to the gun group. "The National Rifle Association is set to square off against the city of Los Angeles as the gun-rights group seeks to overturn a law requiring contractors to disclose all business ties to the organization. The NRA is seeking a court order blocking the ordinance while it pursues a lawsuit to nullify it. The city wants the suit thrown out. A federal judge in Los Angeles is scheduled to hear arguments from both sides Monday." (Bloomberg)
  • Judges threw out two additional warrants used by the San Francisco Police Department to target a journalist. "Police used records of a journalist’s private communications with a confidential source, obtained by a now-quashed search warrant, to secure permission to raid the reporter’s home and office, two judges revealed in court Friday. Records of phone calls between freelance journalist Bryan Carmody and an unnamed San Francisco police officer served as evidence that a leaked police report may have been “unlawfully obtained,” San Francisco Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang said in court Friday…Hwang is one of three judges who decided to quash and unseal warrants targeting Carmody Friday." (Courthouse News Service via TechDirt)


Image credit: Andy Thrasher.
  • President Trump raises $12 million, stirs up controversy for his hosts, with weekend fundraisers… "Donald Trump raked in $12 million on a fundraising swing through the Hamptons on Friday, a visit that’s spurred threats of boycotts and employee complaints against high-dollar donors for supporting a leader many Democrats say is racist. The president left the events on eastern Long Island, each closed to the media, for his New Jersey golf course with $2 million more than the organizers anticipated." (Bloomberg)
  • …Meanwhile, debate continues over Rep. Joaquin Castro's (D-TX) tweets naming local Trump donors. "For many businesses, a sudden deluge of phone calls might signal an influx of new customers. But most of the 25 calls Justin Herricks received before noon on Thursday were from people who wanted to tell him he was a white supremacist for donating money to President Trump…The reason for the calls was Mr. Herricks’s inclusion this week on a list of 44 San Antonio-area residents who have maxed out their donations to the president’s re-election campaign. That list was shared on Twitter by Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves as the chairman of the presidential campaign of his twin brother, Julián…While the Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 Citizens United case to uphold public disclosure — with Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s conservative stalwart, arguing later that without such revelations “democracy is doomed” — Republicans and wealthy allies like the Koch brothers have argued that it results in donor harassment and has a chilling effect on free speech." (New York Times)
  • Frustration grows slow pace of investigation into whether or not Trump appointees mistreated career State Department staffers. "Democrats and many in the State Department are increasingly exasperated that they have yet to see the results of an investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s political appointees mistreated career staffers. The delayed release of the State Department inspector general's findings has generated rising suspicion that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to derail the investigation, whose results could be damning to some of his top aides. Lawmakers initially expected the report “months ago,” according to Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee." (POLITICO)
  • In 928 days President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims. (Washington Post)


Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox! Please send questions, comments, tips, and concerns to We would love your feedback!