Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tom Cole on Executive Order

 Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, in April, a draft executive order was circulated that would force companies as a condition of applying for a Federal contract to disclose all Federal campaign contributions. In my view, if implemented, this executive order would lead to a significant politicalization of the Federal procurement process. Instead of a company being evaluated and judged on its merits, their past work experience, their ability to complete the government contract in question, this executive order would introduce the potential that they would be evaluated politically as opposed to professionally.
   It's never a good idea, Mr. Chairman, in my view, to mix politics with contracting. My amendment would prevent the President from implementing the proposed disclosure requirements.
   Congress actually considered something similar to what the President is proposing in the 111th Congress, the so-called DISCLOSE Act. It's instructive to me that that Congress--the majority of which in both Houses was controlled by our friends on the other side--decided not to implement such a requirement. Frankly, I think doing so now by executive order is effectively legislating through the executive branch.
   The executive order in question that's being considered would not in fact lead to more objectivity in the bidding process, and it could potentially chill the constitutionally protected right of people to donate politically to whatever candidate, political party, or cause that they chose to do so.
   It's worth noting that nothing in this amendment would affect the current Federal disclosures under the law. We're not trying to change things; we're not trying to let people do something they can't do now. We're simply trying to make sure that political contributions and political activities never move into the contracting process. Pay-to-play has no place in the Federal contracting process, and requiring the disclosure of campaign contributions for government contracts does just that.

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