Obama Administration Can’t Get Congress Behind Contractor Disclosure

The campaign against dark money is not one the Obama administration can wage alone. This has become obvious due to the fact that despite coming out strongly against undisclosed political spending, the administration has all but abandoned its efforts to require federal contractors disclose political donations.

Last year the administration composed a draft executive order that would have forced potential government contractors to disclose political spending as a condition of submitting bids. But after 12 months no final order has been issued and both supporters and critics say they’ve seen no signs one is coming.

“The executive order can potentially come back after the 2012 elections,” said Craig Holman, lobbyist for Public Citizen, a government watchdog group that has been urging the greater transparency. “But I don’t consider it still being contemplated.”

Holman said Obama sent clear signals the issue has been pushed to the backburner in January when the president declined to pitch it in his State of the Union address. “Obama neglected to even mention it,” Holman said with disappointment. “I consider it not to be even on the agenda.”

Leaked last April, the administration’s draft order would have required contractors vying for federal projects to disclose any contributions to candidates, parties or third-party political groups exceeding $5,000 in the two years prior to submitting the bid. The rule would have applied to both companies and the individuals running them.

For their part congressional Democrats are trying to roll back the damage from Citizens United. Democrats in both chambers have introduced legislation on campaign spending that’s broader than the administration’s draft executive order. The Disclose Act — sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) — would force corporations, including government contractors, to reveal all political contributions above $10,000 and take public credit for the political ads they sponsor.

Both bills have the backing of the Obama administration. However the larger question remains: does Washington have the political fortitude to tackle the single greatest threat to American democracy?

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Photo from bfishadow via flickr.

13 comments

Robert O.
Past Member 4 years ago

Obama doesn't really want disclosure. If he did, all he needs to do is sign an "executive order".

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Sharon R. What a load of nonsense. Do you write really bad novels for a living?

Sharon R.
Sharon Re4 years ago

The Obama administration can't get Congress behind them because they have been thumbing their noses at the Republicans since the very first days Obama took office. To get a united front takes good negotiation skills, a willingness to give and take, and an ability to see the big picture. All of this Obama seems to lack....

George Boggs
George Boggs4 years ago

Most people could not stand the truth of full disclosure.

John Doucette
John Doucette4 years ago

Politicians talk about transparency but, apparently, that's all it is - talk.

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Doesn't matter what the issue is, Congress won't even look at it. Did Obama write it? Yep, then send it back, it's undercooked.

Nelson Baker
Nelson Baker4 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders4 years ago

The Obama administration won't be able to get a resolution that the sky is blue through congress until we get rid of a bunch of Republicans.

John Mansky
John Mansky4 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Cathryn C.
Cathryn C.4 years ago

He can't do it alone..re-elect Obama and vote OUT those who are deep in the pockets of Lobbyists.