Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So, What's The Hold Up?

Interesting bit of news, this. An executive order waiting to be signed by President Obama has got some knickers in a serious twist:

A lobbying battle is raging largely behind the scenes over a seemingly obscure executive order that could — if signed by President Obama — make public the political spending that many corporations can now keep secret.

Under the proposed order, all companies bidding for federal contracts would be required to disclose money spent on political campaign efforts, including dollars forwarded through associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other private groups. ...

The executive order would require any company seeking a federal contract to disclose all of its federal political spending over $5,000 for the previous two years — including contributions to third-party groups.

Some of this information is already available: Government contractors, like all companies, have to disclose contributions to their political action committees, as well as their independent political expenditures. But the proposed order would create one central database — on the website data.gov — listing the political activities of government contractors and their affiliates and officers.

The Chamber of Commerce is going nuts over the proposed order, which comes as no surprise. Since the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, business interests have been pouring money into campaigns via the Chamber and its "non-profit" organizations formed to funnel that money appropriately. "Appropriately" in 2010, of course, meant to Republican candidates, for the most part.

While the executive order would not preclude the donations, it would demolish the secrecy part. We would at least know who the donors are and how much they gave. As these companies bellied up to the federal feeding trough, we'd know how much and, presumably, who paid their admission.

So, why the delay in signing the order?

Well, it seems that Democrats have learned the lessons of 2010, perhaps too well. They also have been busy setting up the organizations to take advantage of the opacity ushered in by Citizens United, and hope to garner some of that free money.

A pox on both of their houses.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Opacity is the new transparency.

8:44 AM  

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