Obama Looks to Crack Down on Secret Donations

Administration actions would replace law Congress fails to pass
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2011 7:13 AM CDT
President Barack Obama gestures during town hall meeting at North Virginia Community College in Annandale , Va., Tuesday, April 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – The Obama administration has drafted an executive order that would force all companies seeking government contracts to disclose their donations to groups airing political ads, as part of a multi-pronged attack on the kind of anonymous campaign spending Republicans walloped Democrats with last year. The FEC is also moving to restrict the money that subsidiaries of foreign corporations can spend on elections, and the SEC last month issued a decree that could give shareholders more say in such expenditures, Politico reports.

Taken together, the moves would accomplish something similar to the campaign finance reform legislation Congress punted on last year. The US Chamber of Commerce blasted Obama’s order as “an affront to the separation of powers … (and) to free speech,” arguing that it would lead to “a political litmus test” for would-be government contractors. But Democrats and transparency advocates love it, with the president of one pro-campaign finance reform group calling disclosure "essential public policy." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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