Chicago-style politics and a Good Man's end-run around the Constitution
Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today condemned a draft executive order by the White House to compel companies to disclose donations to non-profit groups that might make independent expenditures during an election cycle.
The executive order would apply to “[a]ny contributions made to third party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation that parties would use those contributions to make independent expenditures or electioneering communications.”
“The White House cannot arbitrarily amend federal contractor requirements without a vote in Congress. This is an end-run around the constitutional process, with the Obama Administration once again attempting to implement administratively what it cannot achieve legislatively,” Wilson declared.
He explained, “In this case, the White House could not get the DISCLOSE Act passed, and so the draft executive order compels federal contractors to publicize donations to third parties that make independent expenditures in election cycles that are otherwise shielded from public scrutiny under federal law.”
Wilson added, “It’s nothing more than a cynical gag order issued by executive decree with no basis in the duly enacted laws of the land. As part of the contract-awarding process, the White House wants to know who is giving to whom and will surely make decisions based on that knowledge.”
The executive order would apply to any donations in excess of $5,000 in a given year. Any contractor that donates in excess of the specified minimum to an organization that engages in express advocacy of a candidate would have their names submitted to http://data.gov .
“These disclosure requirements, as intended and designed, will have a chilling effect on speech, which is why they previously have been found to be unconstitutional,” Wilson said, pointing to Supreme Court precedent protecting anonymous donations made to groups that solely make independent expenditures in NAACP v. Alabama (1958).
Then Justice John Marshall Harlan’s majority opinion stated, applying the First Amendment via the Fourteenth to Alabama, “We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists which the Association claims on behalf of its members is here so related to the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
“There is no question that individuals’ speech is stifled by excessive disclosure requirements on independent expenditures. The Obama Administration is once again attempting to shame and intimidate certain corporations, groups, and individuals from saying anything about elections. Free speech is now an executive order away from being abolished,” Wilson said.
Wilson concluded, “It is outrageous that Obama is making political contributions a criterion for getting a contract with the federal government. This is corrupt Chicago-style politics at its worse.”
Worse still? Labor unions and grant recipients are exempt.
This is not your father’s Bush-era Imperial Presidency. Because this time, we actually have one.
Perhaps Mr Cay Johnston can tease out of the lyrics of a Jay-Z song some sort of instructive parallel for this cynical, unconstitutional overreach. To help us understand Mr Obama better, I mean.
See also here.