January 07, 2016

Senators Urge Executive Action to Limit Anonymous Campaign Contributions

Wyden, Whitehouse Lead Call to Bring Greater Transparency to Political Spending

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., were joined by 27 other senators today in urging the president limit anonymous political spending in elections by requiring new transparency for previously secret campaign contributions.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, the senators called on the president to issue a final Executive Order to require federal contractors to disclose their political donations before submitting bids for government work. The administration released a draft Executive Order five years ago, but has not finalized it.

“Citizens and voters of all political stripes realize that shadowy groups are anonymously collecting and spending vast sums on political advertisements and threatening our democracy,” the senators wrote in the letter.

“This type of disclosure is a modest step that would expose an especially troubling type of secret money: campaign contributions that have the potential to influence government contracting practices,” they also wrote. “As corporations spend more money on politics, it is vital to the integrity of the federal contracting system for the public to be able to see that their tax dollars are being allocated by merit and not to those seeking to engage in “pay to play” practices.”

The senators sent the letter after congressional leaders included a provision in the end-of-year spending bill that blocks the Internal Revenue Service from issuing new rules to reign in anonymous campaign contributions. That law also prohibits the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing a regulation that would require public corporations to disclose their political donations.

Both Wyden and Whitehouse have long championed efforts to bring more transparency to political spending. In 2002, Wyden wrote the “Stand By Your Ad” law that was included in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that requires leaders of corporations, unions and other organizations to identify that they are behind political ads. Whitehouse is the lead sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which would require political groups to list publicly their spending and large donors, and previously authored two similar letters to the Obama Administration requesting an executive order.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Al Franken, D-Minn., Christopher Coons, D-Del., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Edward J., Markey, D-Mass.

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