June 23, 2015

Bicameral Call for Greater Transparency in Political Spending

Rep. Eshoo and Senator Whitehouse Lead Over 100 Members of Congress in Urging President to Act

Washington, D.C. – In separate letters sent by House and Senate lawmakers today, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) led over 100 House Members and 26 Senators, respectively, in calling on the president to issue an Executive Order requiring companies that do business with the federal government to fully disclose their political contributions.

“Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent and you have the power to   ensure that the American people can obtain this information,” the House lawmakers wrote in a June 22, 2015 letter to President Obama. “With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by Executive Order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner.”

Senators echoed the same sentiment, saying, “Political spending by government contractors is a problem you can address without congressional authorization.  You would be on solid legal ground if you were to issue an executive order requiring disclosure of political spending by entities that have been awarded government contracts and their senior leadership… An executive order will not solve our campaign finance problems but it will at least be a step in the right direction, and will show your Administration’s commitment to transparency and fairness.”

Nearly half a billion dollars in undisclosed money has been spent in the last two election cycles. Under current law, the president can take immediate action to increase disclosure by requiring companies that receive federal contracts to fully disclose their political expenditures. Among the top 15 recipients of federal contracting dollars, a recent analysis by Public Citizen found that only 47 percent fully disclose their contributions to non-disclosing 501(c)(4) organizations.

In an April letter to White House counsel, Whitehouse was joined by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Al Franken (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in urging the administration to take similar action.  Senators joining today’s letter include Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and members of Democratic leadership such as Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

This is the fourth time Eshoo has led her colleagues in calling on the president to issue an Executive Order. She first wrote to him on the issue in 2011.

The text of today’s letters to the president are available in the links below:

House Letter

House Signatories (104): Eshoo, Capuano, Israel, Edwards, Grijalva, Ellison, Davis (CA), Van Hollen, Norton, Larson, Cárdenas, Polis, Pingree, Lofgren, Gutiérrez, Chu, Crowley, DelBene, Brady (PA), Lowenthal, Capps, Farr, Sherman, Hahn, Roybal-Allard, Takano, Clark, Loebsack, Tonko, Brownley, Matsui, Yarmuth, Kaptur, McCollum, Bonamici, Kelly (IL), Lee, McGovern, Honda, Lowey, Conyers, Esty, Sarbanes, Pocan, Nolan, Slaughter, Nadler, Watson Coleman, Fattah, Schiff, Welch, Deutch, Walz, Dingell, Gallego, Tsongas, Garamendi, Rice (NY), Huffman, Moore, Boyle, Langevin, Green (TX), Price (NC), Lewis, Lieu, Speier, Jackson Lee, Lawrence, Lujan Grisham, Cartwright, Blumenauer, Kilmer, Cicilline, Frankel, Napolitano, Quigley, Moulton, Schakowsky, Luján, McNerney, Cummings, Richmond, Becerra, Swalwell, C. Maloney, Courtney, DeFazio, Murphy (FL), Rangel, DeSaulnier, Carson, Serrano, Grayson, DeLauro, Larsen, Pallone, Duckworth, Castor, Clarke, Heck (WA), Doyle, Jeffries, Hastings.

Senate Letter

Senate Signatories (26): Sheldon Whitehouse, Bernie Sanders, Tom Udall, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Patrick Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Coons, Ed Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Gary Peters, Jack Reed, Robert Menendez, Bob Casey, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Ben Cardin, Michael Bennet, Jeff Merkley, Mazie Hirono, and Dianne Feinstein.


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