Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday strongly criticized a proposed executive order that would require companies seeking federal contracts to disclose political contributions that would otherwise have been secret under current law, calling the move an “outrageous and anti-Democratic abuse of executive branch authority.”
“Just last year, the Senate rejected a cynical effort to muzzle critics of this administration and its allies in Congress,” McConnell said in a reference to the DISCLOSE Act, which fell short in the Senate last July. “Now, under the guise of ‘transparency,’ the Obama administration reportedly wants to know the political leanings of any company or small business, including those of their officers and directors, before the government decides if they’ll award them federal contracts.”
“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,” McConnell added. “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.”
McConnell’s statement came after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed to reporters on Air Force One en route to San Francisco that a draft executive order was in the works. A draft copy of the order was first obtained by Hans von Spakovsky, a vocal Obama administration critic and former Justice Department civil rights official in the George W. Bush administration who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Carney declined to go into detail Wednesday, noting that “the particular specifics of that executive order could change over time.” He also dismissed the notion that there were political motivations behind the move.
“Quite the contrary,” Carney said. “(Obama) believes very strongly that taxpayers deserve to know whether or not the contractors that their money is being used — how they’re 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.”
According to the draft obtained by von Spakovsky, the executive order would require any company bidding for a federal contract, including its directors and officers, to reveal any political contributions it has made over the past two years that amount to more than $5,000 annually. While many political contributions are public, the executive order would include contributions to outside groups that are currently allowed to be made anonymously.
McConnell, who was an outspoken critic of the DISCLOSE Act, said Wednesday that it was his “sincere hope that recent reports of a draft Executive Order were simply the work of a partisan within the Obama administration and not the position taken by the president himself. But he should make that clear.”
This post has been updated since it was first published.