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Rally for Disclosure of Contractor Political Spending

By Emily Myers

Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division, at the rally outside the White House
Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, at the rally outside the White House

If you’ve lived in Washington, D.C., for a while, you might not be fazed by thirty people chanting and brandishing a fifteen-foot inflatable flashlight reading “end dark money.” But if you’re new to the city like me, this sort of political protest is exciting and noteworthy. It is also necessary.

Yesterday’s rally at the White House, one of 55 in cities and towns across America, served to raise the voices of citizens above the “voice” of money A March analysis  by Public Citizen found that only 47 percent of federal contractors disclose contributions to 501(c)(4) groups that could influence elections, barely one third fully disclose their donations to 501 (c)(6) groups and only 27 percent of the largest contractors disclose the details of contributions to both types of groups.

Behind closed doors, federal contractors can use taxpayer money to elect politicians who may grant them preferential treatment and work for their interests.

This is unacceptable.

Public Citizen and other public interest organizations delivered a petition with over 550,000 signatures to President Barack Obama urging him to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors divulge their campaign spending. Public Citizen and its allies believe that transparency is vital to democracy, money does not equal speech, and American citizens have the right to know which federal contractors are trying to buy political influence.

An executive order by President Obama would create a more transparent political system and help ensure that our democracy is not corrupted by money. The extensive support for this executive order shows that people across America are frustrated by the growing influence of corporations over our political system.

So maybe you’re hardened to the constant rallies and protests that fill Washington, D.C., but if you believe that decisions made by our nation’s leaders should serve the populace rather than the financial interests of large corporations, take a note out of my book and get excited about democracy in action!

Since giant inflatable flashlights are hard to come by, you can join Public Citizen and its allies in shining light on dark money by tweeting “@BarackObama, Everyone has a right to know who buys political influence, especially with tax dollars #BetterPolitics http://www.getmoneyoutaction.org.”

Emily Myers is an intern with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.