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The Kafkaesque “Logic” of KPOFCA

Flickr photo of Franz Kafka graffiti via Trois TetesShould war profiteering corporations like drone manufacturer Northrop Grumman be permitted to secretly fund political campaigns?

Of course not. But that’s just one of the scarier implications of KPOFCA, an appalling bill before the Senate that would create a corporate corruption loophole for government contractors.

Last week, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), whose top campaign contributor is Northrop Grumman, Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose top contributor is General Dynamics, and others on the Homeland Security committee approved S. 1100, misleadingly titled the “Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act” (S. 1100) – or KPOFCA (say it “kuh-poff-ka”), for short. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) was the lone voice against the bill on the committee.

KPOFCA would prevent the government from requiring federal contractors to disclose money they’re spending to influence elections. In other words, it would open a corporate corruption loophole that would tremendously weaken reforms that can strengthen disclosure in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

Military corporations are just one example, though it makes sense to emphasize their outsized role in federal contracting – of the $536.8 billion the government spent on contracts in 2011, $374.2 billion (or nearly 70 percent) were with the Department of Defense.

Other federal contractors include huge companies like GE, Verizon, AT&T and others that would welcome a guarantee that their dark money will stay secret even as they are awarded taxpayer dollars from federal contracts.

According to proponents of KPOFCA, keeping political spending by government contractors secret somehow protects the integrity of the contracting process. If this information is not public, their “logic” goes, then politicians won’t know if a corporation receiving government funds for contracts helped get them elected. (Wink wink. Nudge nudge.)

Anyone claiming to agree with this nonsense is either touchingly naïve or blatantly dishonest.

The logic is like something out of a Franz Kafka story. Imagine Congressman K’s election campaign suddenly swimming in money, but K has no idea who is helping him get elected. He tries to figure it out, but lo and behold, nobody can tell him – they shrug and say KPOFCA has sworn them to silence.

That’s about as likely as Sen. Lieberman turning into a giant bug.

Here’s how things work in the real world: If corporations like Lockheed Martin or Academi (formerly Blackwater) want to pour millions to elect a candidate they think will reward them with government contracts, then they will find a way to make sure that the candidate knows. All KPOFCA does is keep the public, not politicians, in the dark.

Let’s squish KPOFCA. Tell your senators to oppose this bill that would keep secret political spending by federal contractors in the dark.

Flickr photo via Trois Tetes.