You know President Obama is about to do something right when Mitch McConnell is screaming bloody murder, and you know he's about to do something courageous when whiners on the Professional Left are eerily silent about it. There is a draft executive order under consideration by President Obama that will force federal contractors (or anyone seeking a federal contract) to disclose their political donations. Think of it as the Sunshine Act for federal contractors.
The president is responding to the 2010 political cycle, when groups allegedly independent of candidate campaigns spent $300 billion in attempts to influence the outcome of federal elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost 50 percent of that total was spent by organizations which did not disclose their donors, up from 25 percent spent by entities with no disclosure in 2008.The Sunlight Foundation - an organization that advocates for transparency in government and campaigns - has obtained a leaked copy of the order. So what does the draft executive order look like, in summary?
The centerpiece of the draft order, which requires disclosure of a variety of contributions that are already disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, is its requirement that any organization bidding on a federal contract disclose contributions made by the organization, its subsidiaries, and its directors to any third party group intending on using that money for independent expenditures or electioneering communications.This is a pretty strong order in the works with no loopholes. And the right wing is pissed. The corporate strumpets in our Congress and the corporate overlords that thought Citizens United was their ticket to turning this country into an oligarchy are pouty and upset. And they have reason to be. Here are just a few companies that have federal contracts and would have to choose between never getting a federal contract again or disclosing their dirty campaign cash:
Under the order donations to Crossroads GPS and other groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity would have to be disclosed by companies seeking federal contracts.So, no wonder the political Right, the Republican party and their benefactors are up in arms. Their line? Asking multinational corporations (that have contracts funded by taxpayer dollars no less) to disclose their political contributions is somehow contrary to free speech. Freepers have the reaction from the Chamber of Commerce:
By applying to all organizations submitting a bid for contract the order would cover a huge swath of the country's companies. JPMorgan Chase, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and the aforementioned Koch Industries all hold government contracts. Thirty-three of the forty-one companies listed in the top 100 campaign contributors over the past two decades are recipients of federal contracts...
Even News Corporation, the owner of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, is a government contractor. The executive order would require both the company and its owner Rupert Murdoch to disclose contributions to political groups. Last year News Corporation contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which already discloses its donors, and, according to a New York Times investigation, another $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which does not disclose its donors.
Calling the draft executive order "an affront to the separation of powers ... (and) to free speech," chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff said it "lays the groundwork for a political litmus test for companies that wish to do business with the federal government" and is "less about disclosure than intimidation." [link]Mitch McConnell is flat out lying and telling us that this is a political litmus test before awarding federal contract. This is nothing more than a requirement to disclose. No legal political contribution is made a part of consideration for a contract in the draft order. It is curious that McConnell believes that the American people, who are paying for the contracts have no right to know how those companies are trying to influence our politics through loads of money. Furthermore, he believes that multinational corporations should have no accountability for their electioneering activities.
But they know well that in the very Citizens United ruling they hold up as the benchmark of free speech, had no problem whatsoever with disclosure. Here's what the ruling said:
But eight Justices (except Justice Thomas) upheld McCain-Feingold's disclosure requirements. Although it recognized that disclosure might burden First Amendment rights and that such provisions were subject to "exacting scrutiny," Justice Kennedy's opinion for the majority noted that: "The First Amendment protects political speech ; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages." Said Justice Kennedy: "....prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and their supporters."So they know damn well that disclosure, even by this Supreme Court's ridiculous definition of free speech (which essentially states that corporations = people and money = speech, an idea that I believe most Americans would take issue with), disclosure of campaign spending is actually pro-free speech in that it preserves the right of citizens (remember us?) to inform their own speech and decisions when it comes to elections. And oh by the way, it just might also inform our decisions as consumers and give us the freedom to choose which companies we do business with. But evidently, the faux free-marketeers don't like that much.
Since Republicans in Congress have consistently and shamelessly blocked the DISCLOSE Act, which merely requires disclosures of political spending by multinational corporations - evidently, for them, the ability of corporations, including foreign corporations, to secretly influence American elections is more important than the right of the American people to know who is funding campaigns - the President has been left with little choice. Transparency is campaign spending is more important now than ever. We should all be ecstatic that the President is considering this step and encourage him to sign the order. Here's how you do it:
- Fill out the White House Contact Form and urge the President to sign this order. Tell him you are proud of this action as an American.
- Write the White House at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Please include your e-mail address
- Or call or fax: