WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led 19 other senators in calling on President Biden to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending, including dark money, after they’ve been awarded a federal government contract. American taxpayers have the right to know how government contractors are spending money to elect lawmakers who can influence the procurement and awarding of government contracts.
Read statement below.
Whitehouse, Colleagues Ask POTUS to Require Disclosure of Political Spending by Federal Contractors
Exposure of dark money spending by federal contractors would protect against ‘quid pro quo corruption’ in federal procurement
Washington, DC – Today, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led 19 senators in calling on President Biden to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending, including dark money expenditures, after they are awarded a federal government contract. An effective disclosure system would shine a light on special interest influence and help increase Americans’ trust in government.
“It is paramount to shore up protections against dark money quid pro quo corruption and its appearance by requiring federal contractors to disclose whether and how much they have spent to support or oppose candidates who can influence the federal procurement process as lawmakers. Such a requirement would also increase transparency and accountability in our elections, empowering citizens to discharge their responsibilities with accurate information,” wrote the Senators.
“While such an executive order will not solve all the problems with secret political spending in our democracy, it would be a much-welcomed step in the right direction. Corruption has no place in our democracy, and dark money is corrupting,” added the Senators.
Federal contractors spend substantial sums in elections. The top ten federal contractors received $213.8 billion in federal revenue in 2020, and their corporate PACs spent $24.8 million in that election cycle. And in the years since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision allowed unlimited dark money to pour into elections, contractors and big corporations have increasingly turned to clandestine electioneering.
Joining Whitehouse’s letter are Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Patty Murray (D-WA). In July, Congressmen Andy Levin (D-MI) and Jason Crow (D-CO) led a similar letter to the President on behalf of 65 House members.
Whitehouse has long led the charge to end dark money’s poisonous influence over American democracy. In September, the Senate voted on Whitehouse’s DISCLOSE Act, which would require organizations spending money in elections – including super PACs and 501(c)(4) dark money groups – to promptly disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. In addition to election disclosure requirements, the bill would require groups that spend money on ads supporting or opposing judicial nominees to disclose their donors. All Senate Republicans in attendance voted against the bill, while all members of the Democratic Caucus in attendance voted for it.
Full text of the Senators’ letter is below. A PDF is available here.