The White House is reconsidering an earlier proposed executive order that would require federal contracts to disclose electoral spending by top officers and the corporation itself despite heavy push back from the business lobby.
The move represents a renewed interest by the Obama administration in remedying the impact of the Citizens United decision and is designed to force transparency between entities that receive government contracts and the money those entities spend on elections.
If it happens, the order would likely be the only move on campaign finance reform to come from Washington this year. Republicans successfully filibustered the Disclose Act which would also require corporate disclosure of campaign expenditures last year. If issued, the order would come as the election season transitions from primaries to the general election and would provide taxpayers their first real look into who is behind the independent groups spending unprecedented millions on political attack ads.
The order would be especially significant because almost all major corporations receive government contracts of some sort. In 2010 spending on federal contracts reached about $541 billion, which is about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Research Service, or about 15 percent of the federal budget. The top 100 contracts include some of America’s largest corporations including telecommunications firms, private military contractors and support services, computer companies and weapons manufacturers.
The best part of this proposed order is the transparency it forces. If the law is intent on allowing corporations to spend freely in elections, then at a minimum they should have to account to taxpayers for every dollar collected and every cent spent.
Photo from Tracy O via flickr.