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Today in OpenGov: A call to civic action, copyright California, dark money and more

Friday, June 3, 2016 14:07
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD CIVIC HACKERS: In a video published to Code for America’s YouTube Account, Megan Smith, chief technology officer of the United States, and Cecilia Muñoz, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, spoke to thousands of volunteers who are gathering for the fourth annual National Day of Civic Hacking tomorrow. It’s not too late to join: Just search for an event near you and show up. Code for America has convened its communities to focus on challenges this year to inspire and direct the efforts of thousands of participants, including applying for food stamps, applying for affordable housing, applying or your criminal record, applying for victim compensation and applying for a business license. But you’re not limited to those goals. It’s not too late to join: just search for an event near you and show up.

COPYRIGHT CALIFORNIA? As Emily Shaw writes at the Sunlight blog, there’s something not so sunny going on in California: “the California Legislature is considering AB 2880, a bill that would grant California’s state government broad latitude to presume a copyright over any and all of its work. This bill, if it passes, will entirely change the nature of what is available in California as truly public information.” [READ MORE]

DARK MONEY: As Libby Watson reports, shareholders of two major U.S. healthcare insurers rejected disclosure of the political contributions of the companies. “While some large companies, like Twitter, voluntarily disclose their political spending, reform advocates note that voluntary policies like these ‘do not hold the promise of a permanent, comprehensive solution’ because of a lack of consistent, timely reporting and no real mechanism for enforcement,” she wrote. [READ MORE]

MORE MONEY: Watson also wrote about how political donors can now give almost $500,000 with a single check: “While we have never seen joint fundraising committees raise this much money, the vehicles themselves are not new to this cycle. Romney and Obama both utilized these committees in 2012 and in 2014 (post-McCutcheon decision) Sunlight research showed more than 200 active joint fundraising committees.” [READ MORE]

PROGRESS! The U.S. House of Representatives is making its quarterly statement of disbursements available as open data! Here’s Josh Stewart on the news: “Since 2009, Sunlight has collected the PDF reports and converted them to searchable CSVs. But now you can download the newly released files directly at the House disbursements page. These include all the spending conducted by the offices of 435 members of the House, as well as delegates, committees, leadership and the House’s Chief Administrative Office, which oversees the release of this and other reports. We updated our Congressional Expenditure Database with the latest Senate numbers, too. Dig in!”

CIRCLE ‘ROUND, CAMPERS: Here’s an update on TransparencyCamp from Labs director Kat Duffy, for those wondering: the next Transparency Camp in D.C. will be in April 2017 and we’re going to be taking Transparency Camp on the road this fall. Please sign up for our email list, follow @TCampDC on Twitter and check back at for more details.

SLOW DOWN: The Sunlight Foundation joined 45 organizations urging the Justice Department to extend the public’s opportunity to comment on the FBI’s proposal to exempt its next-generation database of photos and biometric data from Privacy Act. In response to our efforts, we were heartened to find that the Justice Department extended public comment on the FBI’s Privacy Act proposal by an additional 30 days. We encourage you to read up on the issue and then weigh in online using, the Federal Register or by writing to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Office at [email protected].

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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