Last year, our constitutional republic failed to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required large donors to disclose their giving to political organizations, and prohibited federal contractors from donating to political causes. Apparently, some people still like their privacy and freedom of choice, and our Democrat-controlled Congress respected that.
But now, the Obama Administration has drafted an executive order that would allow the government to examine the political contributions of companies applying for federal contracts. In other words, “the will of the people must be overcome!”
The proposed executive order claims that “every stage of the contracting process ... be free from the undue influence of factors extraneous to the underlying merits of contracting decision making, such as political activity or political favoritism.”
Wonderful! I completely agree with that. What I disagree with is the fashion in which this order demands freedom from outside influences. This order would allow the government to examine all political donations made by officers and directors of companies applying for federal contracts.
I don’t really understand why political contributions are relevant to a contract company’s ability to do a job well. If the government wants to hire someone to pave over potholes, for example, shouldn’t they examine the pothole-filling abilities of the businesses that apply, and choose the best one within their price range? What the heck do political contributions have to do with the ability to repave roads in an on-budget, timely manner.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says that Obama “believes very strongly that taxpayers deserve to know” how contractors are spending their money and how they’re spending in terms of political campaigns. “And his goal is transparency and accountability. That’s the responsible thing to do when you’re handling taxpayer dollars.”
With all due respect, I believe the responsible thing to do is to allow people and companies to donate to whichever cause they choose, and to not hold it against them in areas that have nothing to do with those donations. Government contractors are hired for specific, non-partisan purposes, and causes they donate to are irrelevant of their ability to get the job done.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it best:
Let me be clear: No White House should be able to review your political party affiliation before deciding if you’re worthy of a government contract ... And no one should have to worry about whether their political support will determine their ability to get or keep a federal contract or keep their job.
If President Obama really is all about fairness and disclosure, he might want to remove the union exemption bit of his executive order. According to the Washington Examiner:
Unions that sign collective bargaining contracts with the federal government are exempt from the “disclosure” requirements. Liberal groups, the largest of which are all unions, spent $95 million on outside expenditures alone in the 2010 cycle alone.
Right. This executive order is all about the fairness.
Insert eye roll here.
Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr