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Open Government
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While the Democrats and the GOP have been equally represented among lawmakers moving from Capitol Hill to K Street, the 2018 election pushed more Republicans into the lobbying world.

The revolving door has been spinning real fast

At least 176 former members of Congress have become lobbyists or taken some other role trying to influence their former colleagues and other parts of the federal government since 2011, according to a report by OpenSecrets issued Thursday.

OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics, found that the use of the revolving door between Congress and the private sector was about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

But the lawmakers who left the Capitol at the end of last year and moved quickly into the influence industry are mostly in the GOP. That's mainly because the wave of departures, either voluntary or forced by the voters, was disproportionately Republican following the Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm election.

Most of these former members were hired by K Street lobbying firms or major law firms, the report found. Squire Patton Boggs and Akin Gump each have hired five former members since the 111th Congress ended in 2010.

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Balance of Power
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"While the current battle between Trump and congressional Democrats is newsworthy, it is not entirely new," writes Jennifer Selin.

Trump, Ukraine and a whistleblower: Ever since 1796, Congress has struggled to keep presidents in check

Selin is an assistant professor of Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

George Washington, hero of the American Revolution and the country's first president, in 1796 withheld documents the House of Representatives had requested from him regarding treaty negotiations with France.

Washington thought that giving the House papers respecting a negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous precedent.

Washington's reluctance to hand over these documents has echoed through time, in conflicts between Congress and Presidents Monroe, Jefferson, Adams all the way to Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan, among others. For the most part, members of Congress still must rely on the president and his administration for information in the areas of foreign relations and intelligence.

In the latest version of that long-running tension between Congress and the president over power, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared before the House Intelligence Committee last week.

The testimony is part of a chain of events that began in August when an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, who is tasked by Congress to identify problems in the national intelligence agencies. The complaint related to reports that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. The developing conflict between Trump and Congress has involved, among other aspects, a struggle over who can have access to crucial documents.

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Florida's voter registration site went down over the weekend, angering Democrats prepping for a statewide voter registration drive.

Florida voter site goes dark. Routine maintenance or suppression?

Florida's voter registration website went down over the weekend, angering Democrats who accused the state's Republican governor of voter suppression just days ahead of a national voter registration drive.

The website went down Friday night for "routine maintenance," the site said, and was online again Sunday.

Democrats said they beieved Gov. Ron DeSantis orchestrated the shutdown to interrupt plans to register voters over the weekend and ahead of Tuesday's National Voter Registration Day, the single largest campaign to register voters.

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"No matter why or how people contact their elected officials, they all want one basic thing: They want someone to listen. But what actually happens is something different," writes Samantha McDonald.

How Congress turns citizens’ voices into data points

McDonald is a Ph.D. candidate in the practice of information processing and information system engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

Big technology companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google aren't the only ones facing huge political concerns about using citizen data: So is Congress. Reports by congressional researchers over the last decade describe an outdated communication system that is struggling to address an overwhelming rise in citizen contact.

Every day, thousands of people contact their senators and representatives. Their intentions – protesting or supporting a politician or legislative proposal, seeking assistance with the federal bureaucracy or expressing their opinions about current affairs – vary as widely as their means of communication, which include phones, written letters, emails, in-person meetings, town halls, faxes and social media messages.

The Congressional Management Foundation suggests that most congressional offices saw constituent contact double – or even increase eight-fold – from 2002 to 2010. Current staffers say the numbers have climbed even higher since then. Congressional staffers spend hours listening, reading, collecting and organizing all this information. All of it ends up going into databases in their offices.

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