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Washington Examiner: Obama Close To Signing DISCLOSE Act Executive Order

May 10th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

The Washington Examiner reported last week, “According to Republican sources on the Hill, President Obama may be days away from signing an Executive Order that would make many provisions of the failed DISCLOSE Act law by fiat. As we reported last month, the order would require all companies that sign contracts with the federal government to report on the personal political activities of their officers and directors. . . . According to a Congressional Research Service review of Executive Orders over the last 40 years, no White House has ever issued an EO dealing with campaign finance. Signing the DISCLOSE Act EO would be an unprecedented power grab by Obama.”

In a must-read column for The Wall Street Journal Friday, Kimberley Strassel writes about this outrageous and unprecedented executive order. “Whatever you call it, the order amounts to the White House brazenly directing the power of government against its political opponents—and at a time when the president claims to want cooperation on the budget and other issues. Senate Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Susan Collins are fuming, warning this is one political sucker punch too far, an unabashedly partisan move that will damage Senate work.

“Minority Leader McConnell in an interview calls the order the ‘crassest’ political move he’s ever seen. ‘This is almost gangster politics, to shut down people who oppose them. . . . I assure you that this going to create problems for them in many ways—seen and unseen—if they go forward.’”

Strassel continues, “The draft order, which came out last month, would require federal bidders to supply a complete list of all political contributions made by the company, its political action committee, and its senior executives—going back two full years. (Richard Nixon would be impressed.) More astounding, the order requires the list to include donations made to third-party political groups—disclosure that is not currently required by law, and that is, as a result, surely unconstitutional. Ever audacious, the White House is spinning this as ‘reform,’ claiming taxpayers deserve to know how federal dollars being paid to contractors are being spent in campaigns. This might hold (a drop of) water if the executive order also required all the (liberal) entities that get billions in taxpayer dollars via federal grants and funding—unions, environmental groups, Planned Parenthood—to disclose also. It doesn’t.”

Last month, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Bruce L. Josten spoke to bloggers about the executive order. The Heritage Foundation’s Tina Korbe noted, “Josten thinks the executive order strikes at privacy issues. The draft applies not only to corporations as entities: It also applies to the directors and officers of private contractors. Josten said this invades the privacy of those individuals, who he says should be able to make political donations as individuals, rather than as representatives of their businesses. . . . ‘Privacy can be important to free speech,” Josten said. ‘What we have here is a political order that dangles the specter of potential political retaliation or harassment.’”

As Leader McConnell said when this executive order was first uncovered, “Democracy is compromised when individuals and small businesses fear reprisal, or expect favor from the federal government as a result of their political associations.  So recent press reports about an unprecedented draft Executive Order raise troubling concerns about an effort to silence or intimidate political adversaries’ speech through the government contracting system. If true, the proposed effort would represent an outrageous and anti-Democratic abuse of executive branch authority. No administration should use the federal contracting system for campaign purposes.”

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