Federal lawmakers made a bicameral call Tuesday for President Barack Obama to move on a stalled executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political spending.
Democrats from the Senate and House sent letters to the president, urging him to implement his draft executive order on the issue, called "Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors," which was released in 2011. As the House letter to the president states, the executive order "would have required any entity bidding for a federal contract to fully disclose its political spending."
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) spearheaded the Senate letter, which garnered 26 signatures. The House letter, led by U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA,18), was signed by 104 lawmakers, including Illinois Democratic Reps. Tammy Duckworth (8th), Luis Gutierrez (4th), Robin Kelly (2nd), Mike Quigley (5th) and Jan Schakowsky (9th).
The Senate letter states in part: "Political spending by government contractors is a problem you can address without congressional authorization. You would be on solid legal ground if you were to issue an executive order requiring disclosure of political spending by entities that have been awarded government contracts and their senior leadership ... An executive order will not solve our campaign finance problems but it will at least be a step in the right direction, and will show your Administration's commitment to transparency and fairness."
The House letter adds: "Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent and you have the power to ensure that the American people can obtain this information. With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by executive order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner."
Illinois PIRG is one local organization in support of the president's proposed executive order.
"The Supreme Court got it dead wrong when it allowed corporations to spend unlimited money on elections. But if they can spend freely, companies--especially those that get taxpayer dollars--shouldn't be able to hide their political spending," said Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr. "President Obama called for a 'better politics' without secret campaign spending in his State of the Union address. It's time now to back up those words with action. Americans have a right to know what interests are backing their elected leaders. With a stroke of a pen, President Obama can shine a light on political spending by federal contractors."