Biden Should Require Contractors to Disclose Political Spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden should issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending after they are awarded a federal government contract, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and 18 other senators said in a letter to the White House. Such an executive order would represent the first federal-level action to rein in dark money since the overreaching Citizens United decision.

“This executive order would have an immediate tangible impact on the secret money problem,” says Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen. “Citizens United created a loophole that this executive order can close to help address corruption in our political system. The public deserves to know if and how federal contractors that are taking our taxpayer dollars are engaging in politics.”

In May, Public Citizen released a report showing the breadth of engagement by major corporate contractors in the political process. More than half of Fortune 100 companies received at least $1 million in federal contracting revenue in fiscal year 2020 and, therefore, likely would be covered by the executive order. Twelve of the 15 largest federal contractors that are members of the S&P 500 already voluntarily disclose some information regarding their contributions to dark money groups, but this reporting should be mandatory, Public Citizen maintains.

“It’s time to bring dark money out of the shadows,” Gilbert added. “Senator Whitehouse and his Senate colleagues are right to call for transparency in how large federal contractors operate to influence policy and policymakers.”