Today in OpenGov: High risk


In today's edition, some wealthy donors are spending big money to fight anti-poverty programs, 2 former FEMA officials were charged with bribery and fraud, the latest conflicts from the Trump administration, and more. 

washington watch

Image via Sludge.
  • The wealthy donors spending to limit access to anti-poverty programs. "Last December, an innocuously named nonprofit, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), wined and dined Republican politicians and White House staffers at a Walt Disney World resort, according to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity. The pitch: make it harder for poor Americans to access government programs meant to help them get on secure financial ground, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and Medicaid…A Sludge investigation has found that FGA is heavily financed by a powerful Wisconsin foundation birthed by the wealthy, conservative Bradley brothers, multiple nonprofits affiliated with rightwing billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, and two dark money vehicles funded by Koch and Bradley charitable nonprofits." (Sludge)
  • These 5 loopholes boost the risk of foreign election interference. "Issue One’s latest report, '5 Loopholes That Allow Foreign Interference in Our Elections,' reveals how our broken political system allows China, Iran, Russia, and other foreign adversaries to interfere in U.S. elections.  From hacking our election systems to spreading disinformation campaigns online to using unregistered lobbyists, foreign actors are using more subversive tactics to attack our elections than ever before." (Issue One)
  • "Pop-up" dark money group emerges to attack Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) with six figure ad buy. "A secretive new 'dark money' group is hitting the airwaves — and the road — to help Democrats win Arizona’s hotly contested Senate seat in 2020. Advancing AZ, which also goes by Honest Arizona, is hammering Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) over her vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act. The new group purchased nearly $155,000 worth of TV ads in Arizona to run through much of September, according to Federal Communications Commission records in OpenSecrets’ political ad database." (Open Secrets)
  • This Representative wants to ban public financing of federal campaigns. "Rep. Rodney Davis said Tuesday he was introducing a bill to ban public financing of congressional campaigns, hitting at a signature piece of House Democrats’ political money overhaul…Davis’ bill, which is unlikely to move in the Democrat-led House, states that 'no federal funds' may be used in support of a Senate or House campaign. It would not affect the presidential public financing system, which no major candidates have used since 2008." (Roll Call)
  • New GAO report calls on Defense Department to fully implement open source pilot program. "The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report assessing the lackluster status of the Defense Department’s open source pilot program, saying that until the agency effectively implements this, 'the department will not be positioned to take advantage of significant cost savings and efficiencies.' The Office of Management and Budget issued its federal source code policy in August 2016 requiring federal agencies to improve the way they buy, build, and deliver software solutions through the use of open source code. Part of the policy includes implementing agency-specific open source software pilot programs." (GovFresh)
  • Former FEMA officials charged over bribery and fraud tied to Puerto Rico disaster relief contracts. "A former top Federal Emergency Management Agency official, her aide, and the former president of an energy company were indicted and arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to direct billions of dollars in disaster aid to the company for electricity restoration in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. Ahsha Tribble, who until recently was FEMA’s Region II deputy regional administrator and led the agency's efforts to restore power to the devastated island, is accused of accepting a variety of bribes from Donald Ellison, former president of Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, a subsidiary of Mammoth Energy Services, in exchange for pressuring officials at FEMA and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to improperly assign projects to Cobra." (Government Executive)
  • This week's Trump administration conflicts: location, location, location. "This week, new investigations connected to three of President Donald Trump’s resorts and NOAA is investigating whether it violated its own ethics while backing the president’s false Hurrican Dorian claim." (Sunlight Foundation)


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