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GOP Senators To Obama: Drop The Speech-Chilling Executive Order On Contractors

April 27th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

The Washington Post reports today, “Republican senators are asking President Obama to drop plans to sign an executive order forcing government contractors to disclose donations to groups participating in political activities, saying the White House shouldn’t use a company’s political history to determine if they’re eligible for government work. A draft proposal on the issue is under review and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama believes taxpayers deserve to know how contractors are spending money they’ve earned from the government. . . . Many Republicans however believe that the move could allow the White House to muzzle political critics. And now they want to know exactly how Obama would go about reviewing a contractor’s political history.”

“Doing so,” The Post reports, “‘could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of individuals to contribute to the political causes or candidates of their choice,’ according to a letter written by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and signed by 24 other GOP senators. ‘Political activity would obviously be chilled if prospective contractors have to fear that their livelihood could be threatened if the causes they support are disfavored by the Administration.’

“‘No White House should be able to review your political party affiliation or the causes you support before deciding if you are worthy of a government contract,’ the senators write in a letter set for delivery today. ‘And no Americans should have to worry about whether their political activities or support will affect their ability to get or keep a federal contract or their job.’”

Indeed, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote on its ChamberPost blog last week, “The order doesn’t stop with the business itself; it extends to the political spending of the officers and directors as well. In other words, the Obama Administration believes determining one’s political leanings is a prerequisite for determining the qualifications of a company to do business with the government.”

Former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky summed up well what the White House is doing in his report that broke the news of the proposed executive order last week: “With this proposed Executive Order, the administration is engaging in a back-door maneuver that promotes transparency only in the form of transparent political gamesmanship. It’s an alarming proposal that should raise great concern among members of Congress and the American public.”

As the Chamber of Commerce wrote, “Political litmus tests have no business in determining what companies will most responsibly serve the public interest.”

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