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CHANGE Illinois

CHANGE Illinois is a nonpartisan, nonprofit leading systemic government and election reforms. CHANGE (the Coalition for Honest and New Government Ethics) champions ethical and efficient government and democracy and includes a diverse group of civic, philanthropic, business, labor, professional, and nonprofit organizations representing millions of Illinoisans. CHANGE Illinois works in collaboration with like-minded reform organizations, playing a leadership role in convening and facilitating efforts around shared policy agendas. The coalition works to improve challenges that undermine our democracy, including gerrymandering, restricted ballot access, voter suppression, uncompetitive elections, corruption, lack of government transparency and unethical lobbying, all of which have led to disillusionment and a decrease in civic participation.

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Open Government

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discusses oversight of the stimulus fund dispersal.

Big transparency win in stimulus package undercut by Trump administration

Open government advocates and Democratic leaders in Congress are angry the Trump administration seems to be walking away from crucial transparency language in the economic stabilization package.

Aside from the funds to make voting safer and more convenient this fall, the democracy reform movement was pleased most by a provision in the law creating an independent watchdog to oversee a $500 billion fund to bail out companies crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

But after signing the $2 trillion package last week, President Trump signaled he would decide what this inspector general could share with the public and Congress. And when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought Sunday to dispel concerns about government accountability in administering the biggest domestic economic relief package in American history, he refused to pledge that the IG would be permitted to testify on Capitol Hill.

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Open Government
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom of California issued an executive order allowing local and state bodies to meet on the telephone, cutting the public off from what are typically open meetings.

Another coronavirus victim: public access to government

Advocates of open government are sounding the alarm that local, state and federal officials are too quickly sacrificing public access to the cause of public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is the worst time to be putting up obstacles to access," said Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, a group of state and national organizations promoting access to the meetings and records of government.

Bevarly is referring to a recent flood of emergency legislative changes, courthouse closures, orders from governors and mayors, and legal guidance from attorneys general making it more difficult to watch government in action — and at a time when officials are making sometimes unprecedented economic and public safety decisions in managing the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Big Picture
Nilmini Rubin

"The political foundations of the United States require maintenance and cannot be taken for granted," said Nilmini Rubin, who is leading the Fix the System coalition.

New coalition will push democracy reforms targeted to center and right

Six of the most influential democracy reform groups are at the core of a new coalition, dubbed Fix the System, with the goal of putting more conservative and corporate muscle behind a cause that's generally dominated by progressives.

The effort comes at a time when many in the good governance movement worry their efforts are too diffuse and disconnected, and tilted too far left at a time of divided government. The hope is that, during a time of pandemic fear and economic distress, political polarization will ease enough to permit some good governance changes to muster bipartisan support.

The alliance has been in the works for months but was formally unveiled this week, along with its first public effort: getting Congress to include money to make voting easier and safer this year in the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stabilization package.

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