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The Obama administration has all but abandoned its push to require federal contractors to disclose their political donations.
A year ago, the White House composed a draft executive order that would have forced potential government contractors to reveal their political spending as a condition of submitting bids. But roughly 12 months later, no final order has been issued, and supporters and critics alike say they've seen no signs such a change is forthcoming.
"The executive order can potentially come back after the 2012 elections," said Craig Holman, lobbyist for Public Citizen, a government watchdog group that has been urging the greater transparency. "But I don't consider it still being contemplated [now]."
Democrats in both chambers have introduced legislation on campaign spending that’s broader than the administration's draft executive order. The Disclose Act — sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) — would force corporations, including government contractors, to reveal all political contributions above $10,000 and take public credit for the political ads they sponsor.
Backed by Obama, the bills are designed to nibble away at the Supreme Court's 2010 "Citizens United" decision, which cleared the way for unlimited, often anonymous campaign spending by corporations, unions and other well-heeled interests.
"It would have avoided that entire controversy about political favoritism," Holman said, adding that Obama missed “a huge opportunity” to make a political statement in an election year when political spending will reach well into the billions.