by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Barack Obama, under pressure from liberal interest groups, is reportedly considering an executive order that would require some companies to fully disclose political activities.
“With no chance that Republicans in Congress will pass campaign finance disclosure laws, the groups want Obama to strike a blow for transparency on his own, requiring companies with government contracts to disclose all of their political activity, including contributions to political groups that don’t disclose the names of donors,” Jeanne Cummings claims in an op-ed for Bloomberg View.
The coalition has already held more than 60 rallies across the country, with more planned, and claims to have over 650,000 signatures on a petition supporting the idea. Congressional Republicans, however, pre-empted a similar order that Obama had been considering in 2011, which could cause the president to shy away from renewing the effort. …
… “An executive order from Obama would not end or limit donations,” [the New Orleans Anti-Corruption Coalition’s Janet] Hayes points out, but such an order would allow citizens to see which elected officials are getting contributions from contractors seeking government business, and how much money changes hands.
On the other hand, there is the danger that disclosure requirements could threaten “the core constitutional values of free speech and privacy,” according to Weird Republic, a conservative blog.
Following the debate over California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, for instance, “personal information about donors to Prop 8 committees was posted online, which resulted in death threats, physical violence, and economic reprisals,” and Weird Republic predicts that the order could result in similar retaliation against individuals or companies that take part in debates over gay marriage or other controversial issues.