The Center for Competitive Politics sent a letter to the White House today detailing concerns with a proposed executive order that would inject political considerations into the merit-based federal contracting process.
The main objective of the draft executive order, which leaked last month, is to require entities with federal contracts of more than $5,000 to disclose its donations to nonprofit groups that engage in some campaign-related speech, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It would not apply to groups that receive no-bid federal grants or public employee labor unions.
“The Obama administration cannot cite a single instance of the federal contracting process being corrupted by a donation to a nonprofit group,” said CCP President Sean Parnell. “The timing of the executive order, as President Obama gears up his reelection campaign, is about politics–not concern for good government.”
In 2010, the Supreme Court held in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the government could not prohibit companies, unions and advocacy groups from engaging in independent political speech. Soon after, congressional Democrats sought to undermine the ruling by introducing the DISCLOSE Act. The bill, which would have banned the political speech of many government contractors and added disclosure regulations, failed to pass. Similar rules have been proposed at the FEC, with no action.
Supporters of additional disclosure regulations, who held a 10 a.m. press conference on Capitol Hill today, claim that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United justifies the executive order.
“In Citizens United, the Supreme Court upheld existing disclosure laws,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “It did not endorse every disclosure proposal cooked up by pro-regulation groups or sanction imposing campaign finance laws by fiat.”
Newspapers ranging from The Wall Street Journal to the Las Vegas Review-Journal to The Detroit News have editorialized against the proposed order. Twenty-six U.S. Senators, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the American League of Lobbyists have also detailed problems with the executive order.
“Despite the Obama administration’s platitudes, this executive order would increase the potential for political influence during the contracting process,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC Chairman. “Democrats who support the administration’s effort to silence Republican-leaning business groups should consider what a future Republican administration might do with such a ‘friends and enemies’ list.”
The Center for Competitive Politics is a non-profit organization which seeks to protect the First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly, and petition.