March 10, 2011

Transparency Review (3/7 - 3/11)

In what can only be described as an attempt to evade Nevada's campaign finance laws, Jon Ralston reports that the campaign of former gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid (D) formed 91 shell political action committees for the November 2010 election. The PACs were then used to shuffle upwards of $750,000 to the former Clark County Commissioner's failed campaign. My colleague Geoff looks at the story and notes that maybe now is the time to examine the legitimacy of laws that limit an individual's right to donate money to political campaigns.

The story of Bell, CA, entered its denouement this week as residents voted Tuesday in a recall election to select five new city council members. Eight former city officials are currently standing trial for fraud after it came to light that they were making "six- and seven-figure salaries after creating secret boards and giving themselves outrageous raises."

NPRI's Kyle Gillis gets his hands on a report that gives a sneak peak at how state Democrats are gearing up for the redistricting battle. Key points: Steven Horsford is expected to make a run for the new congressional district and both parties are planning to create a "majority-minority" district.

The Sunlight Foundation sees a recent trend of governors in Utah, Maine, and Tennessee rolling back transparency provisions. On the bright side, though, North Carolina is debating whether to enshrine open government provisions in the state constitution.

The Supreme Court struck a blow for transparency on Monday by rejecting the government's use of an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allowed it to withhold documents from the public. In an 8-1 ruling, the Court held that the Navy could not use a FOIA exemption dealing with "personnel rules and practices" to withhold maps from a community activist because the exemption is only supposed to cover "issues of employee relations and human resources."