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Tag Archive: DISCLOSE

Suggestions for the OGP National Action Plan

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OGP

The Obama Administration is expected to release the second version of its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan this fall.  The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is the primary multi-national initiative for open government, founded in 2011. The original US plan, released on September 20, 2011, covered a lot of ground, but also suffered a lack of detail and ignored several of the most pressing transparency issues. (Both money in politics and national security went uncovered.)

Given the US’s leadership role in the world (and in OGP), and the variety of issues the country faces, we hope the US National Action Plan will demonstrate how an administration can use transparency reform to help address some of the most fundamental challenges it faces.

The following are four Sunlight priorities for the upcoming US National Action Plan, and are priorities that we’ve often repeated to White House officials in our work.

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States Not Waiting for Congress to Act on Disclosure of Dark Money

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This week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman adopted bold new disclosure rules to shine a light on dark money spent on elections in New York. Effective immediately, groups that spend $10,000 or more on state and local electioneering will have to publicly disclose their contributions and expenditures on the New York Open Government website. Nonprofits registered with the state will also be required to report the percentage of their expenditures that go to federal, state and local electioneering. Last week in California, the Senate passed a version of the DISCLOSE Act. If enacted, the bill would require disclosure of donors to outside groups that run political ads. 
 And in Montana, Republican lawmakers this week unveiled a proposal for a ballot measure that would require any entities that spend money to influence campaigns in the state to make public information about their financial supporters. Unlimited secret money has been fueling our elections to an ever-greater extent since 2010, when the Supreme Court decided in the Citizens United case that corporate money could be used to influence elections so long the spending is “independent” of candidates’ campaigns. The Court relied on the mistaken assumption that in the Internet era, such spending would be transparent, noting, “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions.” What the Court failed to take into account was Congress’ inability to pass laws that would ensure the public had the spending information needed to hold “corporations and elected officials accountable.” Instead, at least $300 million in dark money was spent during the 2012 election cycle, while Congress continues to sputter along in its effort to create a disclosure regime.

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Sunlight’s Priorities for the Next Administration

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Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:

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