A draft executive order spelling out proposed disclosure rules governing the political donations of government contractors began making the rounds a few weeks ago and has continued to stoke controversy.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, held hearings last week amid threats of a subpoena to compel administration officials to testify.
A subpoena was averted when the White House announced Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, would answer the committee’s questions.
In his testimony, Gordon said information about political contributions would not actually be taken into account by the government’s program managers.
“The question is, does the public have the right to know what contributions were made by contractors?” Gordon said, arguing that public openness would bode well for the acquisition system as a whole.
However, as the hearings demonstrated, the proposal has proven to be no hit on Capitol Hill as even Democrats have distanced themselves from the proposal.
The topic was addressed in Politico’s “Arena Digest,” a soundoff featuring opinions from top policymakers and “opinion shapers,” in today’s edition, drawing a range of opinions.
Doug Heye, former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, commented the plan amounted to little more than a pay-to-play scheme.
“It is not hard to envision a scenario where political opponents are denied equal access to federal contracts and supporters, or potential supporters are ‘encouraged’ to pony up what is essentially protection money,” he said.
But Meredith McGehee, the Campaign Legal Center’s policy director said too often, “the public is left ignorant of just whose favor is being curried.”
“What is wrong with ensuring that the public has the campaign-finance disclosure it needs to hold both government contractors and candidates accountable?” she added.