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Obama drafts order requiring political donation disclosure from those seeking federal contracts

Supreme Court listens in silence to Obama criticism of its decision during his State of the Union January 27, 2010

What could possibly go wrong with that kind of information in a nonpartisan place like Washington?

Some people may remember President Obama's stinging criticism of the Supreme Court, sitting stoically just beneath him, during the 2010 State of the Union Address. (See photo above.)

The Chicagoan objected to the court's decision in Citizens United vs FEC, which loosened rules on corporate campaign contributions and disclosure of the donor's identity.

Now the Obama White House is considering an executive order to create a back-door donor disclosure requirement for companies seeking federal contracts. According to the leaked draft, the order would require contract applicants to disclose any political donations exceeding $5,000 by the corporation or its executives, often Republican supporters.

As it happens, the Wall Street Journal has noted, the draft executive order would not apply to recipients of federal grants or to federal employee unions, often Democratic supporters. Probably just an oversight.

The White House points to the increasing flow of millions of dollars into political activities via third-party groups that are not required to disclose their donors' identities. Hence the sudden administration interest in transparency.

Critics claim that it's an end-run around Congress, whose elected members and substantial Democratic majorities defeated similar disclosure legislation last year. And that it's simply a Chicago-style intimidation tactic to deter those who desire federal work with this Democratic administration from the disgusting habit of donating to GOP members and causes.

This is, of course, a ridiculous suggestion. If it were true, then such an approach would for generations past have helped keep political control of the nation's No. 3 city in the tightly-clenched hands of Obama's inbred hometown Democratic party, now about to be headed by Obama's ex-chief of staff, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanual. Probably another coincidence.

So, everyone should accept that this upcoming political Obama executive order is simply about good government and bureaucratic integrity -- except for one tiny, silly, little thing.

Most federal contracts are supposed to go to the lowest bidder, regardless of political donations, connections, hometown or hat size. So why would Obama's South Side gang need to know any company's political allegiance?

-- Andrew Malcolm  

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Photo: Supreme Court justices listen as Obama criticizes their Citizens United decision during his State of the Union Address last year. Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

 
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"the draft executive order would not apply to recipients of federal grants or to federal employee unions, often Democratic supporters. Probably just an oversight." If you believe it was an oversight, I've got some land down in the Nevada desert I'd like to interest you in :)

Obviously James, he was being facetious...

Bottom line is Supreme court decision opens up spigot of limitless corporate donations, at a time when the obvious influence of corporations and corporate interests on the American political process has never been higher. Corporations are not people!!! They are not entitled to the same legal protections as people!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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