Freedom of Information

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  • EPA OK To Release Farm Information

    The FOIA blog
    scott hodes
    29 Jan 2015 | 6:53 am
    A federal judge in Minnesota has ruled against industrial farm groups in their attempt to block the EPA's release of information, including the identity of farms in FOIA requests relating to the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations.  More can be found here at Bovinevetonline.com (my favorite web site name in some time!). For those following the story, you may recall that certain members of congress tried to pass legislation blocking the release - attempting to make the release a great national security threat.  It should be noted that the judge in the FOIA…
  • Federal appeals court denies woman’s ‘right to be forgotten’

    FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION » News & Opinion
    donal brown
    29 Jan 2015 | 12:46 pm
    A Connecticut woman was denied in her quest to force Hearst newspapers to eliminate records of drug charges against her even after the charges were dropped and erased from the public record. The woman, Lorraine Martin,  sued for libel and the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against her. “Just as the [Connecticut] Erasure […]
  • Idaho prisons department proposes expanded execution secrecy

    IDOG
    IDOG
    21 Jan 2015 | 8:26 am
    Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill that would formally expand the secrecy surrounding executions. The Senate Judiciary and Rules committee agreed Wednesday to move forward the legislation from the Idaho Department of Correction. The bill would incorporate existing department policy on confidential execution records into state law, and broaden that language to include records involving the source of lethal medications used for executions. From the Associated Press
  • If Political Contributions Predicted Super Bowl Odds, Seahawks Have the Edge

    OpenSecrets Blog
    Clark Mindock
    30 Jan 2015 | 2:52 pm
    A previous Vince Lombardi trophy (Photo by NVinacco via Flickr) If writing checks to politicians and political causes is any indicator of how well a team will do in a Super Bowl, the Patriots should start dusting off this year’s Vince Lombardi trophy — but it’s not going to be a blowout. Really, it would come down to a battle between the owners, and it would be close — very close. According to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis, Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen would win the MVP award, putting in a valiant and nearly single-handed effort. In…
  • The Week on Politwoops: 111 deletions by Arizona governor Doug Ducey and more

    Sunlight Foundation Blog
    Nicko Margolies
    30 Jan 2015 | 2:51 pm
    Deleted photo via Politwoops. This week's roundup of notable deleted tweets from politicians archived on Politwoops includes a shopping trip and another deluge of deletions from long ago. We start with the campaign account for Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, which deleted a tweet with the image to the right and a message saying, "Stopped at @Costco when I landed in DC to stock the office w/ treats & snacks for constituents that visit from #OH14." The photo of a smiling Joyce, cradling two ample bags of Life Savers, was deleted after just two minutes. There was no other mention of treats…
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    The FOIA blog

  • EPA OK To Release Farm Information

    scott hodes
    29 Jan 2015 | 6:53 am
    A federal judge in Minnesota has ruled against industrial farm groups in their attempt to block the EPA's release of information, including the identity of farms in FOIA requests relating to the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations.  More can be found here at Bovinevetonline.com (my favorite web site name in some time!). For those following the story, you may recall that certain members of congress tried to pass legislation blocking the release - attempting to make the release a great national security threat.  It should be noted that the judge in the FOIA…
  • FOIA Fees Subcommittee Notes

    scott hodes
    27 Jan 2015 | 5:13 am
    The FOIA Fees Subcommittee of the FOIA Advisory group met on December 3 and the notes of the meeting have been published here. FOIA fees are an important issue -- one that balances the need to collect some revenue, provide waivers to certain requesters and make sure that information can still be released.  The notes make interesting reading.
  • DC Court of Appeals To Decide Who Qualifies as FOIA Media Requester

    scott hodes
    16 Jan 2015 | 6:37 am
    The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has heard arguments on a case brought by a non-profit against the FTC concerning media status for the non-proft.  More can be found here.
  • FOIA Monday

    scott hodes
    12 Jan 2015 | 5:09 am
    Here are some items from around the FOIA world. Reason.com has this opinion piece entitled "Transparency is a Pro-Government Policy."  Another opinon piece comes from AlJazeera, this one has to do with with pushing forward with FOIA legislation in the new Congress.   And this story claims that a man was freed from prison because of FOIA requests.
  • Law Librarians Society FOIA Research Page

    scott hodes
    6 Jan 2015 | 9:28 am
    The Law Librarians Society of Washington D.C. has set up this page with Freedom of Information Act Resources.  It's a very inclusive list and a great resource for FOIA research.
 
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    FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION » News & Opinion

  • Federal appeals court denies woman’s ‘right to be forgotten’

    donal brown
    29 Jan 2015 | 12:46 pm
    A Connecticut woman was denied in her quest to force Hearst newspapers to eliminate records of drug charges against her even after the charges were dropped and erased from the public record. The woman, Lorraine Martin,  sued for libel and the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against her. “Just as the [Connecticut] Erasure […]
  • Scholastic free speech: Tinkers ask Supreme Court to rule on ‘heckler’s veto’ case

    donal brown
    29 Jan 2015 | 12:04 pm
    John and Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines U.S. Supreme Court decision have filed a friend-of-the-court brief  asking the court to hear an appeal of the case of Dariano v. Morgan Hill. Students lost the free speech case in the Ninth Circuit in which they challenged the school administration’s ban on […]
  • Media wants live broadcast of April U.S. Supreme Court hearing on same sex marriage

    donal brown
    29 Jan 2015 | 11:32 am
    National media organizations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow audio-visual coverage of its hearing on the same-sex marriage cases. In an historic session, the high court is hearing four cases in April on the constitutionality of state laws that allow same-sex marriages.(Legal Times, January 29, 2015, by Tony Mauro) A letter to Chief […]
  • Free speech rights of judges before U.S. Supreme Court

    donal brown
    27 Jan 2015 | 12:43 pm
    The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Florida case over a campaign law restricting judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions. A public defender seeking election to a county court signed a letter announcing her candidacy and asking for contributions and was reprimanded and fined under state law. Those against the law point out […]
  • CIA whistleblower convicted in federal court of leaking classified information to New York Times reporter

    donal brown
    27 Jan 2015 | 11:03 am
    A federal jury found former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling guilty of leaking classified information. He was charged with providing New York Times reporter James Risen with information about a failed CIA mission managed by Sterling to stifle the Iranian nuclear program. The trial was delayed for years while prosecutors labored to force Risen to testify. […]
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    IDOG

  • Idaho prisons department proposes expanded execution secrecy

    IDOG
    21 Jan 2015 | 8:26 am
    Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill that would formally expand the secrecy surrounding executions. The Senate Judiciary and Rules committee agreed Wednesday to move forward the legislation from the Idaho Department of Correction. The bill would incorporate existing department policy on confidential execution records into state law, and broaden that language to include records involving the source of lethal medications used for executions. From the Associated Press
  • Idaho cities, counties score win for government secrecy

    IDOG
    19 Jan 2015 | 7:18 am
    Idaho's public records laws are an unenforceable mess. And local governments apparently want to keep it that way. Editorial from the Twin Falls Times-News
  • New county commissioner wants windows in office doors for greater transparency

    IDOG
    17 Jan 2015 | 4:40 pm
    Marc Eberlein is bringing transparency to the highest offices of county government. Literally. From the Coeur d'Alene Press
  • Committee dials back public records review proposal

    IDOG
    12 Jan 2015 | 8:36 am
    Cities and counties continue to balk at a proposal to create a hearing commission to resolve public records disputes at the state and local level. "It is unprecedented for this to happen. I don’t know of any other instance where a state entity would have jurisdiction, essentially almost judicial jurisdiction, over the decision of a local government entity," said Association of Idaho Cities Director Seth Grigg during a meeting Monday to consider drafting public records review legislation. "We are very uncomfortable with this whole process." From the Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho cities, counties wary of proposed public-records review process

    IDOG
    16 Dec 2014 | 5:09 pm
    In Idaho, citizens are solely responsible for enforcing the state's public records laws. If an agency wrongfully denies access to a public record, a citizen's lone remedy is a lawsuit, which can be a costly and intimidating process. From the Idaho Statesman
 
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    OpenSecrets Blog

  • If Political Contributions Predicted Super Bowl Odds, Seahawks Have the Edge

    Clark Mindock
    30 Jan 2015 | 2:52 pm
    A previous Vince Lombardi trophy (Photo by NVinacco via Flickr) If writing checks to politicians and political causes is any indicator of how well a team will do in a Super Bowl, the Patriots should start dusting off this year’s Vince Lombardi trophy — but it’s not going to be a blowout. Really, it would come down to a battle between the owners, and it would be close — very close. According to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis, Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen would win the MVP award, putting in a valiant and nearly single-handed effort. In…
  • Keystone Opponents Favored by Environmental Groups, But the Checks Were Smaller

    Russ Choma
    30 Jan 2015 | 8:32 am
    People rally to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline in front of the White House January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA Yesterday’s Senate vote on the KeystoneXL pipeline showed some sharp breaks along party lines, as no Republicans voted against the bill — but also along lines of financial support from special interest groups. Last night, we noted that senators who voted for the pipeline project to go forward have received, on average, seven times more money for their campaigns and leadership PACs from the oil and gas industry than those who voted…
  • Keystone Senate Yea Votes: Seven Times More Oil & Gas Money

    crp_comm
    29 Jan 2015 | 6:09 pm
    Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, right, joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, after winning a critical procedural vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill. The oil and gas industry has contributed more than $367,000 to Hoeven’s campaign committee and leadership PAC. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senators who voted to push through development of the Keystone XL pipeline today have received, on average, $570,034 in contributions to their campaigns and leadership PACs from the…
  • Repeal of Medical Device Tax More Likely With Friends Across Party Lines

    Clark Mindock
    29 Jan 2015 | 10:16 am
    Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is one of the Democrats cosponsoring a repeal of the medical device tax. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) Nearly five years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, congressional Republicans have their best chance yet to follow through on a promise to undo part of it by repealing the medical device tax. A number of Democrats are on board for the repeal too. In fact, the tax is anything but a wedge partisan issue. But the bipartisanship may not have much to do with ideology: Republican lawmakers heading the effort have clear ties to the medical device…
  • K Street: Return to Normalcy, or a New Normal?

    Russ Choma
    28 Jan 2015 | 1:34 pm
    President Obama signs the farm bill last February, a likely reason for the drop in 2014 lobbying spending by certain agricultural and food processing interests. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) K Street may not have pulled out of its slide quite yet, but a close read of the numbers suggests that things could be returning to normal. That’s a new normal, however, without the big jumps in client spending that helped propel lobbying income to new heights just a few years ago. The last several years have been defined by fairly radical changes in spending patterns — usually cutbacks —…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • The Week on Politwoops: 111 deletions by Arizona governor Doug Ducey and more

    Nicko Margolies
    30 Jan 2015 | 2:51 pm
    Deleted photo via Politwoops. This week's roundup of notable deleted tweets from politicians archived on Politwoops includes a shopping trip and another deluge of deletions from long ago. We start with the campaign account for Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, which deleted a tweet with the image to the right and a message saying, "Stopped at @Costco when I landed in DC to stock the office w/ treats & snacks for constituents that visit from #OH14." The photo of a smiling Joyce, cradling two ample bags of Life Savers, was deleted after just two minutes. There was no other mention of treats…
  • Cornyn goes to bat for FOIA Improvement Act – attorney general nominee Lynch, not so much

    Sean Vitka
    29 Jan 2015 | 8:32 am
    The Sunlight Foundation is heavily involved in reforming FOIA, and the FOIA Improvement Act is our dog in the fight. Well, specifically, it's Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy's, D-Vt. It was reassuring to see Cornyn bring the bill to Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch's attention yesterday. Specifically, he called on Lynch to commit to supporting one of the critical components of the bill: the presumption of openness. The presumption says, in short, that if there isn't a foreseeable harm in releasing documents under FOIA, an agency shouldn't withhold it simply because it can…
  • Judiciary Committee takes aim at secret law during attorney general nominee hearing

    Sean Vitka
    28 Jan 2015 | 1:49 pm
    During Loretta Lynch's confirmation hearing for one of the most critical positions in the federal government – attorney general – we saw a priority placed on improving the transparency and oversight of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Such
  • Oil lobby launches Super Bowl ad blitz

    Peter Olsen-Phillips and Jacob Fenton
    28 Jan 2015 | 8:23 am
    Superbowl XLIII. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons) Millions will be glued to their TV sets this Sunday to see the epic clash between NFL powerhouses the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. And in between commercial breaks, they might even see some football. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, spent at least $73.5 million on advertising in 2012. This year, they'll be dropping $100,000 for a 30-second D.C. spot during halftime according to an ad contract from local NBC affiliate WRC. The ad…
  • Snap Shot Germany: Gold dealings, but no gold standard

    Lindsay Ferris
    28 Jan 2015 | 6:00 am
    Money, Politics and Transparency will occasionally take a “Snap Shot” of a specific country, an anecdotal look at where a country’s political finance transparency regime is currently, along with some background on how it got where it is today. This time, we look at Germany. Anne-Christine Wegener, anti-corruption consultant and former program manager for Transparency International UK. There are a number of ways in which political parties and candidates can raise money. The traditional paths would be through donations – corporate or individual – and public funding. In Germany, the…
 
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    Deeplinks

  • Battle Over Google Subpoena Threatens Critical Online Free Speech Protections

    Rebecca Jeschke
    30 Jan 2015 | 3:08 pm
    Federal Law Blocks Extraordinary and Burdensome SubpoenaSan Francisco - A high-profile battle over whether Google must respond to an unusual and dangerous subpoena raises fundamental concerns about federal free speech law and the protections it affords hosts of online content, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued in an amicus brief filed today. Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi issued the 79-page subpoena in October, seeking information about Google's policies and practices with respect to content it hosts, Internet searches, and more. The invasive request appeared to be…
  • EFF Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Over Warrantless Searches of Hotel Records

    Dave Maass
    30 Jan 2015 | 10:54 am
    Citizens Have a Right to Challenge Laws That Violate the Fourth AmendmentSan Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge brought by hotel owners against a Los Angeles city ordinance that allows police to access guest registers without consent, warrant, or other legal process. Supporting the hotel owners, EFF argues that people must have the right to challenge surveillance laws like these on Fourth Amendment grounds, even before police have used the law to conduct a suspicionless search. "In an era of pervasive…
  • January's Stupid Patent of the Month: A Method of Updating "Grass" in Video Games

    Adi Kamdar and Daniel Nazer
    30 Jan 2015 | 8:52 am
    Sports. It’s what’s on EFF’s patent team’s mind. No, not because this Sunday is the Super Bowl. No, not even because we filed an amicus brief today in a football-related right of publicity case. It’s because of U.S. Patent 8,529,350—January’s Stupid Patent of the Month. The patent—titled “Method and System for Increased Realism in Video Games”—is owned by Utah-based troll White Knuckle LLC. Like most trolls, White Knuckle doesn’t seem to sell or manufacture anything, but does happen to have this patent on remotely updating a sports video game based on real-world…
  • Peer Pressure: Making Sure the Snoopers' Charter Doesn't Come Back

    Danny O'Brien
    29 Jan 2015 | 1:45 pm
    Late last week, a group of four peers on Britain's House of Lords attempted to insert the entirety of the “Snoopers' Charter”the Internet surveillance bill that was savaged by a Parliamentary overview, and abandoned by the UK's current coalition governmentinto a new counter-terrorism bill. Under an incredibly tight deadline, thousands of UK citizens coordinated to warn the House of Lords what these amendments represented, and why they should oppose such an underhanded move. Over twenty-eight thousand messages were sent via EFF's action center to the 150 peers who are on Twitter: and…
  • EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions on Government Spying

    Dave Maass
    29 Jan 2015 | 1:08 pm
    Department of Justice to Release Analysis of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agency Access to Census RecordsSan Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won its four-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over secret legal interpretations of a controversial section of the Patriot Act, including legal analysis of law enforcement and intelligence agency access to census records. The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a motion to dismiss its appeal of a ruling over legal opinions about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the controversial provision of law relied on by the NSA…
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    The Fine Print: blog posts from Center for Effective Government

  • Settlement in Public Interest Lawsuit Should Improve Fracking Disclosure in Wyoming

    afrank
    29 Jan 2015 | 11:02 am
    Drilling companies nationwide have been keeping the identities of many fracking chemicals a secret by simply stamping them "confidential business information," also known as "trade secrets." In Wyoming, regulators had long accepted these claims with little validation, and residents were left in the dark about the toxic chemicals being injected into the ground near their homes, schools, and water supplies. A recent settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by public interest groups, including the Center for Effective Government, will change this practice. Under the terms of…
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Bill Promotes Big Industry Interests in the Guise of Helping Small Business

    rwhite
    27 Jan 2015 | 9:21 am
    Under the cynical guise of helping small businesses, on Jan. 27, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up, and the House will soon likely pass, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015 (SBRFIA, H.R. 527). Introduced by Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), the real intent of this legislation is to add procedural hurdles to delay public safeguards, expand big industries’ influence in the rulemaking process, and encourage lawsuits that challenge federal agency efforts to protect the American people.  The legislation would require agencies…
  • State and Local Taxes Fall More Heavily on Lower-Income Americans

    jschieder
    27 Jan 2015 | 8:15 am
    The wealthiest one percent of households – those with an annual income of at least $419,000 a year – pay half the tax rate of households earning less than $18,000, a new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows. Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States, which examines tax rates at the state and local levels, concludes: the lower one’s income, the higher one’s overall effective (actual) state and local tax rate. The chart below demonstrates the decline in effective tax rates at higher income levels. Source:…
  • Toxic Industrial Releases Rose 14 Percent in 2013, Primarily Due to Metal Mining Wastes

    afrank
    27 Jan 2015 | 7:41 am
    Data from the Toxics Release Inventory released last month reveals significant increases in toxic pollution across the country in 2013. Toxins released from industrial facilities into surrounding communities increased by more than 500 million pounds, or 14 percent, between 2012 and 2013.  This is the most significant increase in toxins in years. (See our Right-to-Know Network (RTK NET) website). The Polluting Industries In 2013, facilities reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) discharged  half a billion more pounds of…
  • WATCH: Inside A Coal Ash Community That Can't Use Its Tap Water

    guest
    26 Jan 2015 | 7:00 am
    Article reposted with permission from ClimateProgress by Emily Atkin When Sherry Gobble gets anxiety, she’s generally not thinking about work or money. She’s thinking about something most Americans rarely consider: her tap water. “The hardest moments for me is when I’m laying awake in the middle of the night and I’m thinking about all the times I made a pitcher of Kool-Aid with the water, or I boiled a pot of corn or potatoes with the water,” she said. “Those thoughts stick with me in the middle of the night.” That quote comes from a new…
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    Local Open Government Blog

  • Seattle Times Reports on Washington Liquor Control Board Settlement Payment

    Steve DiJulio
    15 Jan 2015 | 3:33 pm
    The Seattle Times reported on the Washington Liquor Control Board's payment to settle a claim under the Open Public Meeting's Act. Read the full article titled "Liquor Board pays $192K to make public records gadfly go away" here.
  • Seattle City Council Briefing on PRA Compliance

    Steve DiJulio
    31 Dec 2014 | 12:57 pm
    As part of its 2014 Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), the Seattle City Council requested that the City Clerk, the City Attorney’s Office and various executive departments form a PDR [Public Disclosure request] Task Force to: (i) identify shortcomings in the City’s current approach to fulfilling PDRs; and (ii) make recommendations regarding appropriate City-wide policies. See SLI 13-2-A-1. The Task Force briefing outline for the City Council (January 5, 2015)  is available here. Included in the preliminary recommendations are: Create a Citywide Public…
  • Washington Supreme Court Orders Attorney Fees And Costs To Requester For Agency's Violation Of PRA's "Brief Explanation" Requirement

    Adrian Urquhart Winder
    15 Dec 2014 | 1:14 pm
    The Public Records Act (PRA) requires that when an agency withholds or redacts records, its response “shall include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record (or part) and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld.”  RCW 42.56.210(3).  In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court held in City of Lakewood v. Koenig that an agency’s violation of this requirement entitles the requester to attorney fees and costs, regardless of whether the records were properly withheld. In this case, David Koenig…
  • Everett Herald Reports on PRA Records Dating Before there was a United States!

    Steve DiJulio
    25 Nov 2014 | 2:23 pm
    On November 25, 2014, the Everett [WA] Herald reported that a man has requested records from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office dating to July 4, 1776.  Perhaps the requestor was not much of a student of history, as Snohomish County was created by the Washington Territorial Legislature on January 14, 1861 (out of Island County).  Click here for the story. Unfortunately, the Washington Public Record Act (PRA) does not provide ready relief to public agencies facing such absurd requests.  Only if the requester is an inmate is there opportunity for relief.  See…
  • Appellate Court Holds the Wisconsin Counties Association Not Subject to Public Records Law

    Steve DiJulio
    11 Nov 2014 | 2:15 pm
    The Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA)  is an unincorporated not-for-profit association of that State’s counties.  The Wisconsin Professional Police Association submitted two requests for records to the WCA under the Wisconsin Public Records Law.  Wisconsin courts previously recognized that under a ”totality of the circumstances” test an entity may be a quasi-governmental organization that resembles a governmental corporation and  subject to the Public Records Law.  That holding even applied to a private corporation.  This is similar to the…
 
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • The Week on Politwoops: 111 deletions by Arizona governor Doug Ducey and more

    Nicko Margolies
    30 Jan 2015 | 2:51 pm
    Deleted photo via Politwoops. This week's roundup of notable deleted tweets from politicians archived on Politwoops includes a shopping trip and another deluge of deletions from long ago. We start with the campaign account for Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, which deleted a tweet with the image to the right and a message saying, "Stopped at @Costco when I landed in DC to stock the office w/ treats & snacks for constituents that visit from #OH14." The photo of a smiling Joyce, cradling two ample bags of Life Savers, was deleted after just two minutes. There was no other mention of treats…
  • Cornyn goes to bat for FOIA Improvement Act – attorney general nominee Lynch, not so much

    Sean Vitka
    29 Jan 2015 | 8:32 am
    The Sunlight Foundation is heavily involved in reforming FOIA, and the FOIA Improvement Act is our dog in the fight. Well, specifically, it's Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy's, D-Vt. It was reassuring to see Cornyn bring the bill to Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch's attention yesterday. Specifically, he called on Lynch to commit to supporting one of the critical components of the bill: the presumption of openness. The presumption says, in short, that if there isn't a foreseeable harm in releasing documents under FOIA, an agency shouldn't withhold it simply because it can…
  • Judiciary Committee takes aim at secret law during attorney general nominee hearing

    Sean Vitka
    28 Jan 2015 | 1:49 pm
    During Loretta Lynch's confirmation hearing for one of the most critical positions in the federal government – attorney general – we saw a priority placed on improving the transparency and oversight of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Such
  • Oil lobby launches Super Bowl ad blitz

    Peter Olsen-Phillips and Jacob Fenton
    28 Jan 2015 | 8:23 am
    Superbowl XLIII. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons) Millions will be glued to their TV sets this Sunday to see the epic clash between NFL powerhouses the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. And in between commercial breaks, they might even see some football. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, spent at least $73.5 million on advertising in 2012. This year, they'll be dropping $100,000 for a 30-second D.C. spot during halftime according to an ad contract from local NBC affiliate WRC. The ad…
  • Snap Shot Germany: Gold dealings, but no gold standard

    Lindsay Ferris
    28 Jan 2015 | 6:00 am
    Money, Politics and Transparency will occasionally take a “Snap Shot” of a specific country, an anecdotal look at where a country’s political finance transparency regime is currently, along with some background on how it got where it is today. This time, we look at Germany. Anne-Christine Wegener, anti-corruption consultant and former program manager for Transparency International UK. There are a number of ways in which political parties and candidates can raise money. The traditional paths would be through donations – corporate or individual – and public funding. In Germany, the…
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