U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined 27 other senators to urge the president to limit anonymous political spending in elections by requiring new transparency for previously secret campaign contributions. The senators are pushing the administration to require federal contractors to disclose political spending before submitting bids for government work. The administration released a draft plan to do so five years ago, but has not finalized it.
The senators made their request in a letter to President Obama, which they sent after Republican congressional leaders included provisions in the end-of-year spending bill that roll back some efforts to bring greater transparency to political spending.
“In light of these developments, it is imperative that your administration use the remaining avenues available to promote greater disclosure and transparency in political spending,” the senators wrote in the letter. “The public deserves to know who is trying to influence them with political advertisements, and what business those responsible for such advertisements have before the government.”
“If companies are going to benefit from taxpayer money through government contracts, then they should be honest with the public about their political spending,” Udall said. “Until Congress acts to fix Citizens United and shine light on dark money in politics, the president needs to take steps to increase transparency. We must seize every opportunity to push back and ensure voters understand who’s trying to influence them at the ballot box.” Udall is the lead sponsor of a constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United decision, which fatally undermined Congress’ ability to enact common-sense campaign finance laws and opened the doors for vast, secretive government influence by corporations and wealthy individuals. Udall’s amendment was supported by a majority of the U.S. Senate in 2014. He has long pushed the president to require government contractors to disclose political contributions.
“Our nation’s democracy is founded on the right to vote and the ability of every citizen to participate in that process equally,” Heinrich said. “However, we’ve seen how the influence of unlimited campaign contributions and dark money in politics derails important issues that matter to working families in New Mexico – such as raising the federal minimum wage, ensuring equal pay for equal work, reducing student loan interest rates, and fixing our broken immigration system. At a minimum, we must bring transparency and accountability to our federal elections.”
The full text of the letter is available here.