Video: Keeping the Free Press Free

The Advisory Committee on Transparency partnered with The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee to host its second event of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, July 21, at 12 p.m. via Zoom. The panel discussion focused on the status of the free press in the U.S., concentrating on surveillance of journalists and their sources.

Panelists included Jennifer Henrichsen of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, Kathy Kiely of Missouri University, Melissa Wasser of The Project on Government Oversight, and Michael De Dora of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The discussion was moderated by Sean Vitka, Senior Policy Counsel for Demand Progress.

Watch the full discussion below.

Save the Date: Keeping the Free Press Free

The Advisory Committee on Transparency and the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee is hosting a conversation on the status of the free press in the U.S. focused on surveillance of journalists and their sources.

The event will be on Wednesday, July 21st, at 12:00 pm ET via Zoom.

Panelists include:

  • Jennifer Henrichsen, Yale Law School Information Society Project Fellow
  • Kathy Kiely, Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies at Missouri University
  • Michael De Dora, Washington Advocacy Manager for the Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Melissa Wasser, Policy Counsel for The Project on Government Oversight
  • Sean Vitka, Senior Policy Counsel for Demand Progress (Moderator)

RSVP to the free webinar here.

Stay up to date with the First Branch Forecast and the Secure Liberties Newsletter 

The public recently learned that the Trump administration seized email and phone records from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, sparking fears for the free press and journalists’ sources. Eric Lichtblau, a target himself, wrote thoughtfully on the issues at hand in The Intercept. The DOJ obtained his and three other NY Times reporters’ information in 2020 as part of an undisclosed leak investigation into their sources. The DOJ also sought their email records — a fight the Biden administration continued to wage. Far from a partisan issue, the Obama administration was frequently decried for conducting a “war on journalism.” Join us for a discussion with experts about the significance of the issues, context, and choices ahead.

About the Advisory Committee on Transparency: Democracy is dependent upon a transparent, accountable, and effective government. The Advisory Committee on Transparency is a decade-old effort to educate policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. It hosts events to discuss important and wide-ranging transparency policy issues with experts from a variety of backgrounds and develops educational publications and provides timely information to the public and members of Congress.

About the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee: The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee is dedicated to supporting civil liberty and the work of the Congressional Fourth Amendment Caucus — helping advise key decision-makers on issues related to the Fourth Amendment, especially in areas where law and technology intersect.

More information: Visit the Advisory Committee on Transparency at https://transparencycaucus.info/about and the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee at https://fourthadvisory.org/about

Video: Transparency in the 117th Congress – What’s On Congress’s Agenda

The Advisory Committee on Transparency hosted its first event of the 117th Congress on Tuesday, May 4th, at 3 p.m. via Zoom. The event previewed what is on the 117th Congress’s transparency agenda. Panelists included Demand Progress’s Daniel Schuman, The Project On Government Oversight’s Liz Hempowicz, Open the Government’s Freddy Martinez, and moderator Courtney Buble from GovExec. Opening remarks were made by Demand Progress’s Ginger McCall.

Watch the event below.

Save the Date: Transparency in the 117th Congress – What’s On Congress’s Agenda

The Advisory Committee on Transparency will host a webinar on Tuesday, May 4th, at 3 p.m. via Zoom.

The webinar will provide an overview of transparency in the federal government, with a focus on where Congress likely will concentrate its attention and the status of past legislative efforts.

Panelists include:

  • Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress
  • Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight
  • Freddy Martinez, policy analyst for Open the Government
  • Courtney Buble, moderator, a staff correspondent who covers federal management for Government Executive.

RSVP to the free webinar here.

About The Advisory Committee on Transparency: Democracy is dependent upon a transparent, accountable, and effective government. The Advisory Committee is a decade-old effort to educate policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. It hosts events to discuss important and wide-ranging transparency policy issues with experts from a variety of backgrounds and develops educational publications and provides timely information to the public and members of Congress.

Come to the U.S. Capitol for an Open Government “State of the Union” honoring Sunshine Week 2020

You are cordially invited to attend an Open Government State of the Union in honor of Sunshine Week, the nation-wide celebration of access to public information that takes place every year around President James Madison’s birthday, who famously wrote that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Please join us in a virtual conference on March 12 at 2 PM for a spirited discussion between experts and advocates about a host of topics, from the Freedom of Information Act to open government data, government modernization, transparency at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, whistleblowers, press freedom, and democracy in the United States of America in 2020.

Please RSVP at info@openthegovernment.org

Moderator: Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director, Open the Government (@lisarosenbrg)

Panelists:

 

 

Transparency Caucus features tools to track legislative information

On June 7, the Transparency Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives hosted a remarkable forum inside of the United States Capitol that featured ten presentations from government officials and members of civil society on innovative tools and technologies. Following is a run down of who spoke and the services, tools and projects they shared:

I attended the forum, shared insights from the presentations on Twitter, and moderated a short Q&A at the end. The event was supported by the Advisory Committee on Transparency.

At a high level, this Transparency Caucus forum was a reminder of the immense progress over the past decade in using the Internet and associated technologies to improve public access to the raw materials of democracy, engage and inform people about new opportunities to learn about their government and participate in it – and the work that still remains to modernize Congress in the 21st century.

An earlier version of this post appeared at e-pluribusunum.org.

Save the Date: Congressional Transparency Tools to Track Legislative Information

The Congressional Transparency Caucus announced it will hold a briefing on Friday, June 7th, at 2 p.m., in the Capitol Building, room HC-8 to discuss tools that make legislation information more readily available.

This briefing will include discussion, tech demos, and the opportunity to ask questions from panelists that have created these tools.

These websites make it easier for Congressional staff to track bills, find Inspector General reports, monitor floor activity, compare voting records, watch the courts, understand policy issues, and more.

RSVP here.

The list of confirmed panelists are below. More are expected.

  • Michael Horowitz, Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Oversight.gov
  • Steve Dwyer, Office of House Majority Leader, Dome Watch
  • Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress, EveryCRSReport
  • Ben Hammer, GovTrack
  • Marci Harris, PopVox
  • Derek Willis, Pro Publica, Represent
  • Steve Schultze, Court Listener, RECAP
  • Andrew Weber, Library of Congress, Congress.gov
  • Sheila Krumholz, Center for Responsive Politics, Open Secrets
  • Veneice Smith, Clerk of the House, Clerk Website Clipping

We will share more information, including the location and additional panelists, when it becomes available.

Save the Date: Congressional Transparency Caucus Briefing on the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Congressional Transparency Caucus will host a briefing on foreign lobbying on July 25th at 2pm in Rayburn 2456. RSVP here.

Rep. Mike Quigley will be giving opening remarks. Panelists will include:

  • Carrie Levine, Senior Political Reporter, Center for Public Integrity
  • Lydia Dennett, Investigator, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
  • Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress Action
  • Tom Susman, Director of Government Affairs, the American Bar Association

Here is the announcement from Rep. Mike Quigley, caucus co-chair, in his “Dear Colleague” letter.


Transparency Caucus Briefing: Shining a Light on Foreign Lobbying

Dear Colleague,

Please join me at the next Transparency Caucus briefing titled “Shining a Light on Foreign Lobbying.”

Revelations of foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election have renewed interest in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Act, which too many lobbyists take lightly due to historic underenforcement by the Justice Department, played a significant role in the recent indictment of Paul Manafort Jr, who served as Chairman on the Trump Presidential campaign while also working for a Ukrainian political party. Passed in 1938, it requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic disclosure of their relationships and financial transactions with foreign principals. FARA, in its current state, however, is susceptible to dangerous loopholes and its lax enforcement undermines other legislation intended to increase transparency in federal lobbying practices, such as the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Now more than ever, we must be able to identify foreign influence and hold foreign actors seeking to lobby the United States government as accountable as any other lobbyist. In June, the Justice Department released years of advisory opinions which have provided some clarity, but also highlighted the need for reform. In the interest of promulgating transparency and safeguarding our democracy, Congress must take on the task of reforming this vital legislation and ensuring its full enforcement.

Join us as the Transparency Caucus welcomes a panel of expert speakers to discuss the challenges we face in monitoring foreign influence in our country, and work to bring greater transparency to the federal government.

Opening Remarks by:

  • Congressman Mike Quigley

Panelists:

  • Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress
  • Tom Susman, American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Lydia Dennett, Project on Government Oversight (POGO)

Stories From Our Surveillance Transparency Panel

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On May 8, the Sunlight Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Transparency hosted a discussion on surveillance transparency and oversight featuring some leading thinkers and practitioners in the space.

We’ll be posting a deeper analysis of the event in the coming days. In the meantime, you can watch it on C-SPAN and dig deeper by reading some of the headlines that it spawned: