Wednesday April 27, 2011 | 09:08 AM

Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine are among a group of Republican senators attacking President Obama’s plan to require federal contractors to disclose campaign contributions as part of their efforts to win government work.

The Obama administration says the move would spur greater transparency and accountability in vetting contractors. But in a letter to the president spearheaded by Collins and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the GOP senators say that, instead, the executive order Obama is expected to sign “would make political considerations a part of every federal contract offer. We urge you not to sign” the executive order.
 
Last year, congressional Republicans blocked a Democratic-proposed campaign finance bill that would have prohibited federal contractors from making federal candidate or party campaign contributions at all.
 
Earlier this month, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Obama was considering signing the executive order, noting it was still a work in progress, mandating contractors disclose contributions because taxpayers “deserve to know” how federal contractors “are spending their money…(and) how they’re spending in terms of political campaigns.
Carney said there was no political motivation behind the potential executive order, saying that Obama’s “goal is transparency and accountability. That’s the responsible thing to do when you’re handling taxpayer dollars.”
 
But the letter signed by a total of 27 GOP senators charges that the move would “require contractors to furnish, with each contract proposal, information about activities protected by the First Amendment, including political activities occurring years before any contract negotiations commence."
 
“We are concerned that the requirement to provide such information to every contracting agency as part of every contact proposal could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of individuals to contribute to the political causes or candidates of their choice,” the letter continued. “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.”
 
(Updated 11:30 a.m.: The draft executive order being contemplated by the president requires disclosure as part of the contracting process both of contributions directly to candidates or parties and to third-party entities that can be expected to make political "independent expenditures" or  "electioneering communications." Total annual contributions must exceed $5,000 to come under the disclosure requirement.)

About this Blog

Subscribe to the
Maine on the Hill RSS

About the Author

Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

Subscribe to the
Maine on the Hill RSS

Previous entries

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

More

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)
Prefer to respond privately? Email us here.