Menu

Federal prosecutors subpoena records from Trump inauguration

Those wanting answers about the funding of President Donald Trump’s inauguration were heartened by reports that New York’s Southern District prosecutors subpoenaed documents on the donors and possible benefits the donors received in return. Investigators are especially interested in the contributions of foreign guests at the inauguration. (ABC News, February 4, 2019, by John Santucci, …

Read moreFederal prosecutors subpoena records from Trump inauguration

California open government roundup: Resistance to new police transparency law

The Berkeley City Council reversed itself after first refusing to release pre-2019 police personnel records under the recently passed SB1421, the state’s new police transparency law. It’s not known how the Berkeley police union will respond, but other unions are arguing SB1421 is not applicable to pre-2019 records. (San Francisco Chronicle, February 3, 2019, by …

Read moreCalifornia open government roundup: Resistance to new police transparency law

Media groups put excessive PACER fees on trial

A legal challenge is underway to gain better access to federal court records, calling fees charged by PACER, the federal courts’ electronic docket system, excessive. Former Senator Joe Lieberman argued that PACER fees made it difficult for all members of the public to obtain records. And news outlets said they could not afford the fees …

Read moreMedia groups put excessive PACER fees on trial

No light on alleged federal criminal charges for Wikileaks’ Assange

A federal judge refused to unseal criminal charges against Wikileaks Julian Assange, the existence of which was mistakenly revealed in another case. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press petitioned the federal court in Virginia for records of the charges arguing that the proof was there that Assange had been charged and the public …

Read moreNo light on alleged federal criminal charges for Wikileaks’ Assange

Greenpeace victorious in federal court ruling dismissing SLAPP lawsuit

A federal district court in California ruled for Greenpeace and others in dismissing over 200 claims by a Canadian logging company  in a SLAPP lawsuit (strategic lawsuits against public participation) intended to silence protected speech. (EarthRights International, January 23, 2019, press release) SLAPP and RICO, the law on racketeering, are often used by powerful companies …

Read moreGreenpeace victorious in federal court ruling dismissing SLAPP lawsuit

What board?: Stone wall blocks public access to information about Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board

As indicated by President Donald Trump’s reversal of the Obama order to end the ban on transgender people in the military, the Evangelical Advisory Board has an outsized impact on government policy without the transparency mandated by FACA, a 1972 federal law requiring that the advice of advisory committees is “objective and accessible to the …

Read moreWhat board?: Stone wall blocks public access to information about Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board

California appeals court denies access to records of vehicle impoundment

A California appeals court rejected a bid for access to an electronic data base of vehicles private towing companies impounded at the request of the police department. The court ruled that the city’s right to access to the data base did not constitute possession. (Justia, January 22, 2019) A civil rights lawyer filed a public …

Read moreCalifornia appeals court denies access to records of vehicle impoundment

Facebook ‘s attempts to shed transparency on political ads grounds watchdogs

In an attempt to expose those behind political negative ads, Facebook has made it more difficult for the news media and nonprofits to monitor those ads. ProPublica established an ad monitoring tool that resulted in showing how oil companies evaded Facebook’s new ad transparency tool but now find themselves unable to use their tool.  (The …

Read moreFacebook ‘s attempts to shed transparency on political ads grounds watchdogs

White House press briefings in peril: Trump White House increases lack of access

President Donald Trump has effectively shut down White House press briefings while casting blame on the media for his move. He repeated his criticism of the press as rude purveyors of fake news. (Salon, January 22, 2019, by Shiro Tarlo) The White House Correspondents’ Association said the failure to hold daily briefings was a “retreat …

Read moreWhite House press briefings in peril: Trump White House increases lack of access

Wisconsin legislators not allowed to exclude liberal group from Twitter

Three Republican Wisconsin state legislators were found to have violated the free speech rights of a liberal group when they blocked it from their Twitter feeds. One Wisconsin Now hailed the federal court decision writing in an e-mail: “Elected officials can’t exclude people from public forums just because they don’t agree with their political views …

Read moreWisconsin legislators not allowed to exclude liberal group from Twitter