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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

by Lee Fang, Republic Report.

There’s a powerful solution for disclosing the secret money sloshing around in our political system. It does not require an act of Congress or action from any of the effectively toothless campaign finance watchdogs, like the Federal Elections Commission. In fact, this solution could be passed in an instant and the only requirement for action is political will.

President Barack Obama can issue an executive order today that requires government contractors to disclose their dark money campaign contributions.

Why doesn’t he? And why don’t campaign finance reform organizations push for such a fix?

In 2011, following the first wave of undisclosed campaign money in the 2010 midterms, the administration floated such an executive order. The idea provoked furious lobbying from business groups concerned that their donors would have to take responsibility for their electioneering.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest dark money group in the last two midterm elections, not so subtly threatened war with the White House over the order. “We will fight it through all available means,” one Chamber lobbyist told the New York Times, referencing the bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi, “To quote what they say every day on Libya, all options are on the table.”

The order wouldn’t impact every dark money donor. Individuals and companies without contracts with the federal government would remain untouched.

However, the order would likely impact dozens of firms. General Dynamics, one of the largest defense contractors in the country, has told shareholders that it has directly funded political dark money groups, though they have declined to name them. As journalist Paul Blumenthal has pointed out, “JPMorgan Chase, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and the aforementioned Koch Industries all hold government contracts.”

As Republicans prepare to focus narrowly on repealing the medical device tax in the next Congress, a measure that would increase the deficit by nearly $30 billion over 10 years, doesn’t the public have a right to know the full extent of medical device manufacturers’ campaign donations? There’s evidence medical device companies funded some of the largest dark money campaign organs, but we do not have a full picture. Given that major medical device firms hold federal contracts, an executive order could help reporters and members of the public understand what’s really motivating our policymakers.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have cried foul on the disclosure idea, claiming that the executive order would exempt unions. But that’s simply not true: several unions have contracts with the federal government and would be included in the rule with other federal contractors. Moreover, many unions already disclose dark money payments through reports filed with the Department of Labor. The union argument is really a red herring because the rule would not impact dozens of corporate and individual dark money donors.

When the idea was originally floated in 2011, congressional Republicans temporarily blocked any further consideration of the executive order with riders attached to the appropriations bills. “These riders have since expired,” says Public Citizens’ Craig Holman, “and with the pending Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, a significant amount of the president’s agenda will have to be achieved through executive action. Opening up the books on dark money is one such action.”

Holman, Public Citizen’s lobbying expert, emailed Republic Report to say that his organization “is renewing its call to the Obama administration to issue an executive order requiring disclosure of political spending by government contractors.”

After initial floating the possibility of issuing the executive order, the administration backed down. The question is, will the failure to act on dark money be part of Obama’s legacy?

This article originally appeared on Republic Report.

President Obama speaks at “A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House” on the South Lawn on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The president and First Lady invited music legends, members of the U.S. military, military veterans, and their families to the White House for a celebration of the men and women who serve the United States. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

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  • TZToronto

    Such an action would simply add to the list of bogus grounds for impeachment.

    • sigrid28

      This would be a fight worth having, going into the 2016 election. Maybe the president should strive to deplete the coffers of his enemies–for that is what they surely are–by signing executive orders to (1) exclude dark money from companies contracted to ANY government entity, not just the federal government; (2) establish uniform election procedures to ensure fairness in voting nationwide (same early voting days and vote by mail, for example); and (3) begin immigration reform. Democrats and Independents would be far more engaged politically if we were fighting FOR something we really want, with the country really needs very badly, rather than having to endure the time-wasting, money-wasting, drivel that would come out of the kind if impeachment proceedings lame-brained Republicans are contemplating now. Why not have it out over issues that matter? Better for the administration to spend a fortune on something worthwhile rather than taxpayers forced to pay millions MORE for empty hearings and bills that won’t go anywhere–and the endure the barrage of mean-tempered ads dark money groups are preparing to inundate us with during the 2016 election. I’d donate my cigarette money to fight over something that mattered.

      • joe schmo

        1) His enemies can deplete his coffers by withholding funds
        2) All dark money should be vanquished.
        3) Voter ID please that would make it fair. What you are proposing leaves to much to error and fraud. You really need to cheat to win?
        3) He better not do that. That was #2 after the economy in the ‘better not do it’ that turned the Country Red. Besides, it’s not the poor coming in this country you care about. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE VOTE.

        ‘Something you want which the country really needs very badly….’ Really! I guess the election proved otherwise. What was I saying about a one-party system on your side. I think the consensus certainly does not revolve around you, Liberals. Remember we have a two party system.

        You’ve been deceived. No one is trying to impeach the Man.

        • TZToronto

          Please come back when the House begins its impeachment proceedings and try to deny you ever said there would be no impeachment. And why do you and your ilk continue claim that voter fraud is rampant? It’s not. The very few individual cases that you might be able to cite do not constitute widespread voter fraud. I’d be more concerned with poorly programmed/maliciously programmed computerized voting systems–especially when the companies that make these things are making donations to political parties and politicians. You simply want to make it more difficult for the poor and minorities to vote since they tend to vote for Democrats. Also, I’d like you to come back after the November, 2015, election and assert that the people have spoken when they elected a Democrat for President and regained the Senate for the Democrats. I suspect, though, that if you come back then, you’ll be accusing Democrats of voter fraud.

          • joe schmo

            Sorry, ‘ain’t’ gonna happen:) #1) because he is America’s first BLACK president.
            #2) I think the Conservatives constiuents and Republicans reps can attest to the fact that Obama is sinking his own ship….. Besides they tried it with Clinton and it didn’t happen.
            #3)Voter fraud is still a fact. Doesn’t matter what side of the isle you are on. I am strongly FOR voter ID. It will make honest men and women out of ALL of us.
            #4) You don’t really give a flying ‘F’ about the poor and minorities. You just keep them ignorant enough so they will vote for your camp. Same goes for the illegal issue which is pure political enhancement for the Democratic party.
            #5) We all know that Hillary will most likely be elected. (God forbid Warren. We simply don’t need another Obama)
            #6) At this point no clue which way it will sway. It all depends on how Conservatives act in Congress.
            #7) Nothing is set in stone. It will all depend whether we want more communism in or lives or we don’t.

          • jmprint

            He is far from sinking, he is almost walking on water. The reason you are against immigration reform is because you are scared there will be too many mexicans in your back yard, It has nothing to do with immigration as a whole. Pretty soon the Chinese will own your neighbors house and your towns corporate buildings so keep crying about the illegals, soon after you will be asking for their support against your communist neighbors.

          • joe schmo

            WOW, so he’s reached the level of God. I didn’t realize that the liberal party has gotten this insane.

            Of course I don’t and there are many reasons why I don’t. 1/2 of California is Hispanic this year. They sponge off the system here, take all the jobs, commit most of the crimes and bring down the education level because of their lack of.

            Have you ever heard of the term ‘quota.’ They have their own country right next door. Why don’t we just have a guest worker program where they can earn their money, pay the taxes on their checks and take the money home. It will make them look wealthy in comparison with the rest of the country and in turn they can build up Mexico. How does that country appear to you? Have you ever been in Tijuana or Rosarita Beach? Have you been honored with their filth, corruption and educational ineptness. I have. If that’s what you want here, that is exactly what you will get. We get to become a 3rd world order, all for the sake of your greedy side wanting to have a one-party Marxist system.

            As for the Chinese, yes, in fact they are buying up a lot in the U.S. but just like what they do in Africa, they hire locals. The Chinese give while the Hispanics take away.

          • jmprint

            That’s what immigration reform is all about. Why doesn’t congress fix the problem. Instead, they wait, and wait and wait until they have children born here and they are United States Citizens any way you splice it.

          • angelsinca

            That open door to the East could be the next act of indifference toward the Legislature and insult to those that earned their green cards legally. For me, it isn’t about too many Mexicans, it’s the lack of English, barking dogs, and accordian polka at 102 db.

          • jmprint

            Well you don’t have to be illegal for that behavior, my white trash neighbor’s dog bark and pounce on my fence, their country music is loud, but I guess that’s a blessing it keeps me from hearing the spitting and snorting.

          • joe schmo

            Well, in my neighborhood, we get the door kicked out in broad daylight (luckily no one was home) by an illegal gang banger who plays his umpapa music so that the world can hear it. They fly the Mexican flag over the American flag as if they own the Country and speak Spainish so loud that it overides anything we say in public. Our packages left by UPS are stolen from the front porch on a regular basis. They stand in line with food stamps even though they have a job. Every person on the local television who has been arrested is Hispanic and there are certain places in a neighboring town where you don’t even want to be at night. Liberals keep coddling the culprits, but they refuse to live in Hispanic areas. They tend to live in the elite areas of our district. What a bunch of hypocrites.

          • angelsinca

            Of course you don’t. have to be illegal to have a lack of English, barking dogs, and accordian polka at 102 db. But you probably aren’t a white redneck either.

          • jmprint

            One of the many blessings I have receive in life. Thank God.

          • angelsinca

            Is your problem with whites or just working class people in general?

          • jmprint

            I have NO problem with any race, at ALL, I am a working class, I have no problems with myself either. What I don’t care for are people like you pretending to be Christians, greedy people, thinking they are superior to others.

          • Allan Richardson

            Assume, for argument’s sake, that voter fraud really does exist in numbers large enough to require better ID. And note that the ID and other voting restrictions ACTUALLY PASSED by GOP controlled states (NOT the theoretical “anyone who deserves an ID should be able to get one” idea) have the “unintended” side effect of making poor and minority voters who ARE ACTUALLY ELIGIBLE to vote unable to get the SPECIFIC ID updates, whether because of lack of funds, lack of time off work (yes, Democratic voters DO WORK, despite the GOP lies about them), lack of transportation, destruction of the records (by nature or by government agency action) by which they were ORIGINALLY certified, but which have to be obtained all over again because of the new ID laws, or the newly restricted hours, locations and staffing of the agencies which issue the required ID cards. This may not be part of your “ideal” photo ID law, but some or all of these handicaps HAVE BEEN written into laws actually PASSED in the last few years.

            The question, and I hope you are man enough to answer it honestly and not evade it, is this:

            HOW MANY LEGALLY ELIGIBLE VOTERS WHO CANNOT obtain the newly required ID, as described by the FACTS about the ID laws above, would you consider JUSTIFIED (in other words, collateral damage to the innocent) to stop ONE fraudulent vote? And why do you suppose the ID laws which have actually been passed in the last 4 years DO NOT fix these “unintended” effects?

            By the way, one of the characteristics of ACTUAL Communism is that one must belong to the ONE AND ONLY party in order to vote, for all the good it does.

          • joe schmo

            Give me a break. I know for damn sure that polling places open quite early and stay open after normal working hours. Anyone who REALLY wants to vote WILL make it happen.

            I really fail to see what the big deal is about voter ID’s. Everyone has at least one photo ID?

            “Liberals have become little more that the Cult of Perpetual Grievances. Over the last 40 years they’ve only managed to institutionalize decadence, depravity, dependence on government and entitlement under the false banner of “liberty”. Liberals are no longer able to distinguish between moral license and true liberty and therefore represent a clear and present danger to hard-working, taxpaying mainstream Americans and the U.S. Constitution. They are the enemy within. The ash heap of history should be their final resting place.” -hank

          • joe schmo

            ….and Soros company in Spain counts the votes for Presidential elections……Don’t trust the SOB

            If your side takes everything again… I might as well start calling you comrad.

        • jmprint

          The only thing the election proved was that democrats didn’t get out to vote.

          They might not have taken action on impeachment yet, but they sure do vocalize about it.

          • joe schmo

            That’s your excuse.

            I will be SURPRISED if the do. Most likely they won’t. In fact it really hasn’t been mentioned much. Maybe on your news outlets it has been?

          • angelsinca

            Actually Joe, the low Democrat turn out is the reason for the GOP win. But the reason for the poor turn out is hardly admitted; apathy toward Obama (the hope and change promise turned out to be a big fat monthly premium for….Obamacare)., and politicians in general.

          • joe schmo

            Well hopefully that lousy change will once again turn into hope one day. We could sure use a good dose of it right about now.

            Not sure if you have visited other Conservative sites recently….. Wow, they are on fire. Makes you feel pretty damn good for a change. Let’s hope we can keep up the momentum and that Congress will do the right thing. Least we can hope for is a lame duck who has no funding for anything.

      • TZToronto

        I doubt that he can apply the disclosure rules to state and local government suppliers. That could easily end up in the Supreme Court. Also, standardized rules for elections (early voting, mail ballots, etc.) would also be a non-starter. Not that such rules aren’t a good thing, only that the states have control over these things.

  • Steve Rogers

    To be honest, there’s no material difference between today’s liberals and their socialist, marxist, and communist ancestors.

    • Blueberry Hill

      There is a world of difference between the two parties. Only the Rethugs try to float this load of crap.


    • johninPCFL

      Only to those who never graduated from middle school.

  • Canistercook

    Trouble is ‘Dark money’ really goes to both parties. He cannot afford to ‘stop it’!

  • Ellen Ripley

    How many lies has Obama told today?