Get ready for the cries of "overreach!"
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President Obama is reported to be readying an executive order that will shine a bright white-hot spotlight on the so-called "dark money" - billions from undisclosed donors - which has flooded the political system ever since the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision ruled companies are people too.
In what the New York Times called a "Citizens United Stunner," the president will attempt to blunt the harmful effects of the Supreme Court's ruling by requiring "all government contractors to publicly report their contributions to groups that spend money to influence campaigns and elections." The order would apply to companies with government contracts worth over $100,000, which includes about 70% of businesses on the Fortune 500 list. Companies that refuse disclose their political contributions will not be eligible for government contracts.
Polls continue to show Americans loathe the Citizens United decision and what it has done to politics, but Republicans in congress have shown no interest in passing legislation to overturn it. The president's executive order would at least allow voters to see where all that "dark money" is coming from - and into whose pockets it is disappearing.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Blair Latoff Holmes, characterized the proposed executive order as the Obama administration "harassing, intimidating and silencing those with whom they disagree.
"We continue to believe that one’s political activities should play no role in whether or not you get or keep a federal contract," said Ms. Holmes, "and we encourage the administration to leave this bad idea right where it is."
Democrats, for the most part, are on board. In fact, it was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who suggested to President Obama that he take executive action, hand delivering a letter signed by 155 Democrats urging him to act.
“It’s the easy thing that he can do," said Rhode Island senator, Sheldon Whitehouse. "It gets at a little bit of the problem, but more to the point, it buoys everybody who’s looking at this disgraceful political mess that we have out there that is infuriating Democrats and Republicans alike with the sense that they don’t control politics anymore and it’s all being left to the special interests."
White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said she did not have a time frame yet on when to expect the dark money executive order. Ms. Hoffine indicated they are still considering "additional steps we can take to reduce the corrosive influence of money in politics."
Photo is from Gov. Scott Walker's Twitter album