May 11, 2011
Attacks on Disclosure: Reps. Issa and Graves Hold Hypocritical Hearing to Oppose Transparency of Political Spending
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
The administration is hard at work on an executive order on a historically bipartisan issue: the disclosure of political spending. Simultaneously, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) are attempting to undermine the concept with a hearing tomorrow titled “Politicizing Procurement.”
Sunlight on corrupt and wasteful pay-to-play politics is a good thing. It is clearly in the interest of taxpayers and voters to know if government contracts are being granted as political favors. The stakes are high when it comes to contracts – the federal government pays out more than $500 billion to contractors every year.
The irony of this hearing is lost on no one.
Rep. Issa, who last March founded the Bipartisan Transparency Caucus, while quoting Justice Louis Brandeis and declaring stridently that, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” now seeks to undercut an executive order on transparency. He of all people should want to cast light on the government contracting process, rather than work with business interests to keep such spending in the dark and citizens uninformed.
The Obama administration is right to be taking on the issue of transparency in government contracts, and the president needs immediately to sign the executive order, which would require companies vying for government contracts to disclose information about their political expenditures. The public deserves to know who’s spending what to elect members of Congress; only those who have something to hide prefer the dark.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.