April 20, 2011

Chicago-style politics and a Good Man's end-run around the Constitution

ALG release:

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.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 8:56am

Comments (12)

  1. The LightWorker™ is above these petty concerns about this “Constitution” you keep mentioning.

  2. Sure…And all of those who gnashed teeth and rent garments over the tyrrany of the “unitary executive” during the W.Bush Presidency are dusting off their giant paper mache heads and preparing to march on Lafayette square any minute now, joined, of course, by the code pinkos and all of the various and sundry groups that protested the war in Iraq and the AF but are strangely silent regarding Libya.

    For an ideology that is keen to spot, and loves to focus on, the alleged hypocrisy of religious folks and conservatives in general, they aren’t able to see it too clearly among their own ranks.

    Why, it’s almost like they’re biased. Imagine that…

  3. I’ll attach a note that says simply, “We give ZILLIONS of dollars to every political cause that you support!”

    Make ’em prove otherwise.

  4. I saw a proposal somewhere recently (sorry! can’t remember where) that instead of all this transparency (sneakily selective), there should be total opacity: nobody, especially the candidate or party, knows where the money comes from. Ergo, nobody knows who they’re actually beholden to.

    Of course, there’s nothing stopping someone from proudly telling a candidate what they gave them, so there’s that.

    they aren’t able to see it too clearly among their own ranks

    You’re assuming that they actually care about avoiding hypocrisy instead of just grabbing whatever club is at hand to beat down their opposition. Notice how in one breath they’ll accuse us of racism and in the next fire racial slurs at Condoleeza Rice or Clarence Thomas.

    They’re not biased: they’re unprincipled power-seekers. Time to stop assuming they’re anything else.

  5. When do we get to peek at where organizations like the Tides Foundation [pdf] funnel money from ??? and to ???

  6. An Executive Order presuming to tell private companies what they can do?

    I think not.

  7. there should be total opacity: nobody, especially the candidate or party, knows where the money comes from. Ergo, nobody knows who they’re actually beholden to.

    It’s funny, largely the exact same argument plays out with regard to secret ballots.

    The union, they don’t like them.

    In the past, when such a concept was rather new, you’d see politicians openly oppose the idea. Secret ballots? How the hell can you tell who they voted for? Why, what would stop a person from accepting a bribe in exchange for a vote and then voting for someone else? The whole world will end! The system turned upside down!

  8. Community organizers will have no ability to organize anymore!

    And then whole communities will just collapse into chaos, because god knows the proles can’t organize themselves very efficiently.

  9. Squid, mojo, they don’t have to prove a damn thing. And since they have the authority to decide who gets the contracts, it doesn’t matter that the companies are private. They haven’t met the requirements of the contract. Done.

  10. Called “private” but the question is, as always, “who owns you”.

  11. Fine, SDN. Then I guess I’ll have to make up a little donation receipt that says “SquidCo gave ONE ZILLION DOLLARS to Daddy Soros/Koch Brothers (circle one) on _____ (date).”

    That should keep ’em happy.

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