The Open House Project from The Sunlight Foundation

The Day in Transparency 2/8/11

February 8th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · 1 Comment

Here is Tuesday’s look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • Chairman of the House Oversight committee, Rep. Issa, publicly released the 220 responses from corporations, associations, and small businesses identifying which regulations they felt to be hindering growth. (Roll Call $)(Center for Public Integrity)
  • Defense budget experts say the earmark ban is unlikely to succeed due to the importance of military projects and the ability of lawmakers to find alternate ways to direct money to military projects in their districts. (The Hill)
  • A new analysis by the Government Accountability Office shows that the National Archives and Records Administration project to create a searchable, electronic database of government documents is likely to run over budget and behind schedule. (Next Gov)
  • As momentum and demand for Internet-enabled voting accelerates, the importance of website availability will become increasingly important. Gov Tech finds that there is still work to be done before websites are ready to handle the increased traffic associated with election results, dissemination of election information and online voting. (Gov Tech)
  • The National Business Aviation Association told members that the Department of transportation is planning to limit a federal program that allows any aircraft owner to prevent specific flight data from being released to public websites. (Politico)
  • Former Federal Air Marshal turned whistleblower Robert MacLean submitted a FOIA request for documentation regarding several retaliatory investigations enacted by the Federal Air Marshal Service against himself and several other whistleblowers. His FOIA request was denied on the grounds that all six thousand pages of documentation were unable to be released due to the personal privacy concerns of those involved with the investigations. (Government Accountability Project)
  • Subcommittees have begun holding the first of many of oversight hearings to trim funding for federal agencies and programs, as Appropriations Committee Chair, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), maintains his expectations that appropriations subcommittee chairmen will perform vigorous oversight of agencies funded with taxpayer dollars. (The Hill)
  • In relation to the 23 federal charges former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is facing, his defense team filed a motion early Tuesday asking for what they say is missing evidence in his corruption trial, including the transcript of a phone call between an aide and Rahm Emanuel, who was then serving on Barack Obama’s presidential transition team. (Politico)
  • A cyber-security bill introduced in late 2010 by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) would have given the United States president the ability to shut down private or government internet networks. (Gov Tech)
  • Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is resigning from Congress to succeed former Rep. Lee Hamilton as president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Politico)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/8:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • S. 299. A bill to amend chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that major rules of the executive branch shall have no force or effect unless a joint resolution of approval is enacted into law; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/8:

1 CommentTags: The Day in Transparency · openhouseproject

The Day in Sunlight 2/8/2011

February 8th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including news that the White House’s envoy to Cairo has business ties to the Egyptian government, the restrictions on corporate donations to the 2012 Democratic National Convention has loopholes, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal highlighted articles from the New York Times and The Guardian on the ways in which politics and business meld in Egypt. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal delved deeper into the question of ethics regarding the new role of Virginia Thomas as a lobbyist for her newly formed firm Liberty Consulting. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal ended the day highlighting transparency news on ethics embattled Rep. David Rivera, a PAC loophole and the Republican Presidential primary, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Josh Hatch announced Sunlight Live’s coverage of President Obama’s speech to the Chamber of Commerce. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Lindsay Young reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) granted a request by a powerful committee chairman and several corporate interests to extend the comment period for the agency’s proposed regulations requiring the way they use “conflict minerals.” (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Keenan Steiner and Anu Narayanswamy reported that the Office of Congressional Ethics report on financial reform shows nexus between fundraising and legislating. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Keenan Steiner included some annotations on the Office of Congressional Ethics report on how Washington’s fundraising culture influences legislation. (Party Time Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

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The Day in Transparency 2/7/11

February 7th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Monday’s look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • The American Medical Association is having their annual National Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC next week to discuss their legislative agenda, including capping medical malpractice awards and keeping the health care  reform bill largely intact. (Roll Call $)
  • On behalf of the Mubarak administration, a team of lobbyists are reminding Congress that Egypt is an important ally whom the United States cannot abandon. (Politico)
  • Public safety organizations are pushing Congress to allocate a broadband spectrum to local authorities. Verizon and AT&T, the two companies who already have access to this spectrum, have sided with these organizations. T-Mobile and Sprint, who do not have access, support a plan favored by the FCC to auction of the spectrum and use the proceeds to build communications infrastructure. (Roll Call $)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration bill to increase the number of national airspace system testing sites from four to 10. Watchdogs claim his amendment is an earmark by another name. (Politico)
  • Members could benefit from clear guidance regarding per diem allowances while traveling overseas. The State Department standards state that they only have to return unused per diem allowances when they are receiving an enhanced rate. The OCE found that Members are required to return unused allowances even when solely receiving the regular rate. The House Ethics Committee issued an unclear report on the issue. (Roll Call $)
  • Just like former Speakers Pelosi and Gingrich, Speaker Boehner refused C-SPAN’s request to install robotic videocameras in the House chamber. (Tech President)
  • Ryan Thompson, chief of staff to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), is leaving Capitol Hill to take a job at Ogilvy Government Relations on K St. (The Hill)
  • Blind former New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has signed on as a paid, part-time consultant with the National Federation of the Blind. (Roll Call $)
  • Federal agencies are increasingly reliant on contractors but many struggle to manage them due to management weaknesses and internal control deficiencies, thereby exposing billions in taxpayer dollars to fraud, waste and mismanagement. (The Center for Public Integrity)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/7-2/11:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • None.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/7-2/11:


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The Day in Sunlight 2/7/2011

February 7th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened recently on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including news that the FCC will now require all oral ex parte communications to be documented, questions of relevancy of the Senate Ethics Committee, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal ended the day highlighting news that the 2012 Democratic convention won’t accept any corporate cash, fundraising parties this weekend for the Superbowl, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Bill Allison reported that Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, began the new firm Liberty Consulting. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

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The Day in Transparency 2/4/11

February 4th, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Friday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events

News Roundup:

  • The American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Task Force on Federal Lobbying Laws  recently published a report entitled “Lobbying Law in the Spotlight: Challenges and Proposed Improvements” focusing on three general “weak spots” in the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995: a lack of registration and reporting, separation of lobbying from the “political money machine” to prevent any bundling of contributions and pay-to-play conflicts, and insufficient enforcement. (The Project on Government Oversight)
  • In Virginia, fifteen teams of college students from 12 universities are using open-source district mapping software to build maps from the 2010 census data, and a panel of redistricting experts will judge the results in a statewide competition. The contest aims to pressure Virginia’s legislature into drawing sensible districts, as opposed to ones that reflect individual legislators’ desires for self-preservation. (Tech President)
  • Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is now the head of Liberty Consulting, which claims to use her “experience and connections” to help clients with their “governmental affairs efforts” and political donation strategies. (Politico)
  • A staffer for Senate Appropriations Labor subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) called a meeting of some 400 lobbyists and activists to discuss budget cuts. (The Hill)
  • Former Missouri state auditor, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said that contracting officers should stick with auditors’ conclusions on contract pricing or they risk losing objectivity because they build connections with the contractors they oversee. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Speaker John Boehner supports giving broadcast media outlets new access to the House chamber and other spots in the Capitol so that the public can get a better feel for its legislature at work. (Politico)
  • The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Board has the beginnings of a website, ConsumerFinance.gov. (Tech President)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/4:

  • None.
Relevant bills introduced:
  • S. 267. A bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to require a lifetime income disclosure; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  • S. 282. A bill to rescind unused earmarks; to the Committee on Appropriations.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/4:

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Sunlight 2/4/2011

February 4th, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including the thin line between campaign and Congress when it comes to fundraising, the hiring of former Congressman Charlie Melancon to the International Franchise Association, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Scott Stadum included a roundup of the series of guest bloggers on Tools for Transparency. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Zubedah Nanfuka included the weekly roundup of transparency bloggers, highlighting good government efforts in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, and North Carolina. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported the industry response to Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa’s solitications to lobbying organizations and big campaign contributors for regulation suggestions. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal closed the day highlighting Rep. Ruben Hinojosa’s personal bankruptcy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-lobbying rhetoric, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • James Turk announced that the New Hampshire General Court has made a downloads sectionon their website, allowing citizens to benefit from bulk legislative data. (Sunlight Labs Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Transparency 2/3/11

February 3rd, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Thursday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events

News Roundup:

  • According to Politico’s review of Federal Election Commission reports, 122 lobbyists generated at least $8.9 million in donations for Democratic candidates and committees in last year’s elections. On the Republican side, 56 lobbyists bundled about $3 million for GOP candidates and committees. (Politico)
  • The House Ethics Committee had no problem with the evidence in a report it issued a report last month showing that campaign donors were offered one-on-one meetings with Members of Congress, that senior Congressional staff participated in nearly every fundraising activity a Member conducted, and that a lobbyist discussed both a legislative concern and a fundraising event with a Member’s chief of staff. (Roll Call $)
  • The Podesta Group and Dickstein Shapiro, among others on K Street, are expecting to see business increase as clients hire K Street consultants to fend off the many oversight investigations the GOP plans to launch in the next two years. (Politico)
  • John Culberson (R-TX) loves using technology to interact with his constituents in the name of transparency, even saying that he’d “like to be able to have a cloud of constituents who follow me around in real time.” (Politico)
  • Former Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA.) has taken a job as senior vice president of government relations and public policy for the International Franchise Association. (Roll Call $)
  • Former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R), the son of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), has been named president of the American Automotive Policy Council. (Roll Call $)
  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, is working to set up a website where people can identify regulations that they think are stifling economic growth. (Next Gov)
  • Sen. Bernard Sanders claims the Defense Department paid $285 billion over a three-year span to hundreds of military contractors who defrauded the Pentagon during the same period. (Washington Times)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/3:

House
  • None.
Senate
  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • S. 261. A bill to amend chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code, to provide for reform relating to Federal employees workers compensation; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/3:

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Sunlight 2/3/2011

February 3rd, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Nicole Aro unveiled Sunlight’s parody of “Groundhog Day” focusing on shadowy lobbying organizations. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines including how the California State Treasurer is looking to recoup lobbying money back from banks, more Capitol Hill to K Street moves, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal noted the hiring of former Sen. Rod Grams as the new chief of staff for freshman Congressman Chip Cravaack. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal closed the day highlighting several lobbying headlines and noting the irony of the debate on the health care bill that passed last year on Groundhog Day. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Bill Allison released the new Post Employment Tracker, a new Lobbying Tracker tool that helps track former congressional members who register as lobbyists. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Nancy Watzman reported that improving mortgage disclosures for consumers will have to wait until July when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) comes into business, as announced by the Federal Reserve Board. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

No CommentsTags: openhouseproject

The Day in Transparency 2/2/11

February 2nd, 2011 by Melanie Buck · No Comments

Here is Wednesday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

  • Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the panel would not allow earmarks to be included in this year’s appropriations bills. (New York Times)(Washington Post)
  • Chairman Issa is refining his request for information regarding agency FOIA request document, additionally asking for copies of emails between key White House officials and interviews with staff at the Department of Homeland Security. (The Hill)
  • Two lobbying firms, the Podesta Group and the Livingston group, made over $400,000 lobbying on behalf of Egypt during the last six months of 2010. (Politico)
  • Transparency goals might suffer if House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) can’t figure out how to cooperate. (Politico)
  • The New Hampshire state legislature has started releasing data on legislation and legislators in a way that allows outside web developers and researchers to easily process and explore. (Tech President)
  • FedEx and UPS spent millions battling in the 111th Congress over a labor provision in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The new version of the bill being considered today by the 112th Congress does not contain the clause that would have put FedEx under the same labor laws as UPS. (The Hill)
  • Former Kennedy aide Ngozi Pole was convicted on five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property. (New York Times)
  • D.C. ethics rules only require lawmakers to declare their outside income sources if an employer or client did business with the city government or stood to gain from pending legislation during the last calendar year. (Washington Times)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 2/2:

House
  • None.
Senate
  • Judiciary. Hearings to examine the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Wed. 2/2. 10:00am. Senate Dirksen Building 226.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • None.

Transparency events scheduled for 2/2:

  • None.


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The Day in Sunlight 2/2/2011

February 2nd, 2011 by Katie Dixon · No Comments

Here is a look at what happened yesterday on the Sunlight network.

  • Paul Blumenthal began the day with several transparency headlines, including more information on Egypt’s Washington lobbyists, Canada’s open government plan, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported that former Congressman John Tanner (D-TN) has joined top lobbying firm Prime Policy Group. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal investigated the Arab nations’ 2010 lobbying contacts. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal reported that former Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) is joining the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Paul Blumenthal ended the day highlighting a few headlines including the announcement by Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye for a two-year moratorium on earmarks, a few revolving door moves from Capitol Hill to K Street, and more. (Sunlight Foundation Blog)
  • Nancy Watzman detailed the uptick in new registrations for entities expecting to lobbying on financial institutions, investments, and securities. (Sunlight Reporting Group)
  • Tom Lee commented on CQ’s First Street, one of several new services that are selling large amounts of government data, much of which is already free. (Sunlight Labs Blog)
  • Take a look at the previous day’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency related events. (The Open House Project)

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