FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit

March 22, 2013 9:47 AM

From New England First Amendment Coalition:

BOSTON — Suffolk University Law School’s NEFAC chapter hosted a panel discussion as part of NEFAC’s observance of Sunshine Week, exploring the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and its effects on the 2012 elections.
The panelists included Jeff Clements, author of “Corporations Are Not People,” Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, attorney Gregory V. Sullivan, partner at Malloy & Sullivan of Hingham, and Scott Van Voorhis, Boston-based financial and investigative reporter.
The discussion focused on the legal justifications for and the ramifications of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (a 2010 decision to allow corporations to spend unlimited money on lobbying campaigns that work independently from candidates’ political campaigns, i.e. “super PACs”).
The majority opinion relied heavily on the legal premise that spending money is essential to disseminating speech, which was established in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). It reasoned that limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is a First Amendment violation because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.
The Buckley case had interpreted the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which was the first comprehensive effort by the federal government to regulate campaign contributions and spending. Buckley allowed the Federal Election Campaign Act’s limitations on individual campaign contributions and reporting requirements to stand. However, it struck down limitations on individual expenditures on unrelated lobbying organizations and expenditures on a candidate spending his or her own money on his or her campaign.

NEFAC is a member of NFOIC.--eds.

November 6, 2012 11:45 AM

From ProPublica:

The donors wrote notes on their checks like "Go get 'em!" or "Stop Obama." They scrawled in names of candidates for office in Montana and Colorado, or simply "oil & gas."
But unlike donors to political committees, the names of those who gave to Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP, were never supposed to be made public.
That changed Friday after a Montana district court judge released the social welfare nonprofit's bank records at the request of Frontline and ProPublica, saying citizens had a right to know.
It was the first time that a court has ordered a modern dark money group's donors to be made public, firing a warning shot to similar organizations engaged in politics.

March 9, 2012 4:39 PM

Sunshine Week 2012 Events

Events around the country have been posted and we encourage you to not only add yours to the list, but also send photos, links, PDFs and other coverage. Federal, state and local lawmakers, as well as open government experts have contributed opinion columns on topics relevant to Sunshine Week. Editorial cartoons donated by the artists can be used by anyone for free in relation to their Sunshine Week coverage. Also posted is an infographic created by McClatchy-Tribune Graphics for anyone to use March 11-17.

Visit Sunshine Week for the rest.

Are you a 'Ray of Sunshine'?

The popular Sunshine Week Ray of Sunshine game is back with all-new questions for 2012. Take the quiz and wear the victory badge on your own site and Facebook page. You also can use the game button in your own pages with a link to the game to encourage others to test their open government knowledge.

Visit Sunshine Week for the rest.

Who is buying elections?

Welcome to a new era of exponentially more unlimited and undisclosed campaign spending. This is the first presidential election since game-changing rulings by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and a federal district court in v. FEC paved the way for a small group of elites to spend unprecedented sums — with little or no transparency — to influence voters. Since then, outside groups often called “super PACs” have proliferated, stimulating new ways for big donors to influence elections — often in secret.

Visit B.R. Hook for the rest.

Arkansas AG, journalists urge court to uphold FOI, reverse judge’s ruling

The state Supreme Court today granted requests from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and two journalists’ organizations to submit briefs in support of a challenge to a ruling that portions of Arkansas’ open government law are unconstitutional. McDaniel, the Arkansas Press Association and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argue in their briefs that a Sebastian County Circuit judge erred in the ruling he made in a lawsuit alleging the city of Fort Smith violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Visit Arkansas News for the rest.

Former Wisconsin supervisor honored for openness effort

A Wisconsin village president who resigned his county board seat rather than stay silent about an open records issue was one of several people honored Thursday by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. Hilbert Village President Ken Stenklyft was one of eight winners in six categories of the council's Openness Awards, or Opees. The winners were announced ahead of Sunshine Week, an annual national effort to draw attention to the public's right to know that begins Sunday.

Visit for the rest.

Mayor unveils San Francisco open data cloud

Mayor Lee unveiled, a cloud-based open data site and the successor/replacement to The city is adopting cloud services, “social citizen interfaces,” and APIs to power its new open data site, all in an effort to provide a more robust, technologically sound infrastructure that can drive innovation, access to information, engagement, and government efficiency.

Visit TechCrunch for the rest.

CIA claims that torture technique is an "intelligence method" exempted from FOIA

The CIA’s characterization of torture as an “intelligence method” is shameful, and at bottom it is simply another effort to prevent the public from learning the full scope of the torture program. We know from documents the government has already released that the CIA’s use of waterboarding violated even the minimal guidelines established by its legal memos. The Obama administration should fulfill its commitment to transparency and release these additional documents.

Visit ACLU Blog of Rights for the rest.

Syndicate content