Sunday, March 4, 2012

The White House is Not Giving Up on Federal Contractor Pay-to-Play

By Stefan C. Passantino

The White House is very serious about mandating contribution and issue advocacy disclosure obligations on federal contractors.

We have reported several times (most recently here) on the various tell-tale signs, tea leaves and trial balloons that would lead one to believe that the White House is very serious about mandating disclosure by executive order. Much of the drama stemmed from a draft Executive Order (discussed here) that was floated last April and didn’t appear to get very far.

Most notably, the executive order under consideration would hav e required “every contracting department and agency” to “require all entities submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions and expenditures that they have made within the two years prior to submission of their offer” including:

(a) All contributions or expenditures to or on behalf of federal candidates, parties or party committees made by the bidding entity, its directors or officers, or any affiliates or subsidiaries within its control; and

(b) Any contributions made to third party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation that parties would use those contributions to make independent expenditures or electioneering communications.


Congress responded with language inserted into the 2012 Defense authorization bill and again in the December 2012 omnibus spending bill.


With apologies to Jack Nicholson, they’re baaaack . . .


On Monday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced on the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs website that the White House Fiscal Year 2013 budget seeks to reverse the prohibition on such requirements included in the Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus appropriations bill.


Sure enough, she’s right. Check it out yourself. The 2013 budget seeks to remove Section 743 which contained the prohibition against requiring such disclosures.


Said Senator Collins: “What possible good can come from linking political information to a process which must be grounded solidly and unequivocally on providing the very best value to American taxpayers?  It is unfathomable why this Administration would consider a move that would, at worst, corrupt the process, and at best, create a perception that political beliefs of private citizens is to be considered in selecting the winners and losers among businesses vying for federal contracts.”


I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.


Contractors, lock your doors. This ain’t over yet.

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