New bills in the House and Senate are aimed at blocking a new Executive Order before it’s ever signed.
The bill would, among other things:
• Prohibit a federal agency from collecting the political information of contractors and their employees as part of any type of request for proposal in anticipation of any type of contract;
House leadership has concluded, for partisan political reasons, that President Obama’s draft executive order, which would require contractors to publicly disclose their political spending, is an attempt to politicize contracts. If Obama had wanted to extort campaign money from contractors, though, a public disclosure system would be the worst way to do it.
There’s one appropriate way that Congress could keep the President’s draft Executive Order from ever being signed: pass a new law requiring disclosure for the recent flood of dark money into our elections. But since Senate Republicans rebuffed all efforts to require disclosure for who is funding our elections, President Obama has apparently decided to pursue the only options available to him.
As was made abundantly clear in the recent Oversight Committee hearing on the draft EO, the disclosures wouldn’t be used to determine which bidder gets a contract.
The rhetoric against this EO often paints the disclosure as not being public, and acts like the standard isn’t fair. Public disclosure of campaign finance information *protects* our elections and our public policy, and the standard the EO would create applies evenly to *all* contractors, be they unions, or anyone else, despite widespread claims to the contrary.
If a company wants to do business with the government, and profit from the public purse, is it really to much to ask to understand how they’re trying to influence the process? Obviously not. That’s why Americans hate secret spending in our elections, and care about how money is affecting our politics.
Members of Congress stoking outrage about the rights of contractors to spend secret money in our elections should look again at what they’re trying to protect. If it’s the proper role for campaign finance disclosure, then they should pass the law they refused to pass last Congress — the law that the Supreme Court all but endorsed in the Citizens United decision.
If they’re trying to protect their own careers by protecting their ability to benefit from secret political spending, then they’re going down the right path.