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Today in OpenGov: FBI’s transparency, @POTUS44, Bay of Pigs report, foreign money in US elections?

Monday, October 31, 2016 15:04
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

UNTRAVELED TERRITORY: As you’ve no doubt heard since we last wrote to you on Friday, FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress informing lawmakers that the bureau had discovered more records pertinent to its investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and would review it. [Washington Post] The letter, which was promptly leaked to the press, set off a firestorm this weekend as more reporting and blog posts filled what Comey had left unsaid: the FBI had found more email that agents thought could be relevant to its investigation of Clinton while searching the laptop of former Congressman Anthony Weiner in its probe of his messaging with a minor. On Sunday, CBS News reported that the bureau had ained a warrant to search through a reported 650,000 emails for classified records. As NBC News reported, in July “Comey said the legal standard required clear proof that Clinton either ‘intentionally’ mishandled classified information or that she knowingly took classified information out of the appropriate government systems,” which means any newly discovered emails “would face a high bar for supporting charges against Clinton— clear proof [she] intentionally sought to mishandle classified info.” In the meantime, the uncertainty left by Comey’s context-less letter is one more surprise out of left field that breaks with established norms in an unprecedented election cycle that is likely to see more drama in the eight days before Election Day.

TRACKING THE TRANSITION: The White House hosted a meeting with the leaders of the Trump and Clinton transition teams on Friday, reportedly at the invitation of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. According to the Washington Post, the two teams reviewed transition preparations at agencies with 15 high-level Obama administration officials and discussed “the General Service Administration’s (GSA) role in supporting the transition teams, the development of a federal budget for fiscal year 2018, emergency preparations, the on-boarding of new administration personnel, and how the Obama administration will communicate with the winner’s transition after Nov. 8.”

Unfortunately, neither the White House nor the transition teams directly informed the American public of that agenda, nor the state of planning, leaving it to political press, once again, to focus upon the dynamic of the transition teams being in the same room. Sunlight has issued principles for transparency in the transition and called for the campaigns to adopt an Ethics Pledge. [Washington Post]

THE FUTURE OF @WHITEHOUSE: In other transition news, the White House explained how it’s going to approach the transition online in a post at WhiteHouse.gov. KoriSchulam, deputy chief digital officer, shared 3 principles for what to expect process:

First, we are preserving the material we’ve created with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). From tweets to snaps, all of the material we’ve published online will be preserved with NARA just as previous administrations have done with records ranging from handwritten notes to faxes to emails. Second, wherever possible, we are working to ensure these materials continue to be accessible on the platforms where they were created, allowing for real time access to the content we’ve developed. Finally, we are working to ensure that the next president and administration – regardless of party – can continue to use and develop the digital assets we have created to connect directly with the people they serve.

In the broader scheme of things, this may seem like small potatoes, but the relevance of social media in this digital age is undeniable. It’s important to set a precedent for how official accounts used in governance will be archived and transferred. Left unanswered: if President Barack Obama will get to take over the @BarackObama handle from @OFA on January 20, after he signs out of @POTUS for the last time.

WHAT’S THE CONVERSION RATE FOR RENMIMBI? Sunlight’s Melissa Yeager wonders if the Federal Election Commission will act to prevent foreign money from flowing into U.S. elections. “The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over a report by The Telegraph (U.K.) showing members of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, Great America PAC, instructing a Chinese businessman on how he could move money into the U.S. election in clear violation of federal law.” [READ MORE]

DISCLOSED: The Central Intelligence Agency’s internal investigation of the Bay of Pigs, shorthand for a failed invasion of Cuba in the 1960s, is now online.  CAMPAIGN 2016

  • No, the election is not rigged.
  • GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s companies have destroyed a lot of records, sometimes in defiance of court orders. [Newsweek]
  • Here are 33 ballot measures around the United States that are going to be for a vote that you might not have heard of, given the focus on the presidential race. Some of them are major shifts to health care or voting systems. [Politico]

NATIONAL

  • The report on 18F by the inspector general of the General Services Administration has now been reported beyond Beltway trade press and technology publications. When statistics, accounting and management choices are laid out like this, with no clear “win” to balance, it’s not hard to see how “Obama’s startup” could be seen as a political liability in a new administration.  [Fox News]

STATE AND LOCAL

  • A series of large contributions to politicians making a decision about real estate development in Los Angeles is leading to a lot of questions about who made them and why. [LA Times]
  • A prominent law firm in Boston paid out dubious bonuses to partners after donations to Massachusetts Democrats. [Boston Globe]
  • San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transition (BART) system approved a new open data policy. [Examiner]

INTERNATIONAL

  • The European Commission argued that open data is delivering benefits across Europe. [Digital Single Market]
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered a warning about search engines and social media distorting public perception and information, calling for algorithmic transparency. [Guardian]
  • Like penetration testing on .gov apps & websites, deanonymization research on open data should not be criminalized, as proposed in Australia. Instead, governments should expand “bug bounty” programs to enlist the public in helping to protect government data and code through challenges. [EWeek]

EVENTS

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The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.

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