WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have sent a letter to President Obama, signed by 25 of their Republican colleagues, which is critical of a prospective Executive Order (EO) requiring federal agencies to collect information about the campaign contributions and other political expenditures of potential contractors before awarding any federal contract. Senator Collins is the Ranking Republican on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs which oversees federal contracting.
The letter contends that in the name of keeping politics out of the contracting process, the proposed White House policy draft would apparently make information about political contributions a part of every federal contract offer. It emphasizes that taxpayers should receive the best value for federal contracts and thus government procurements must be conducted in a manner that ensures a fair process, free from politics.
The letter states: “We are concerned that the requirement to provide such information to every contracting agency as part of every contract proposal could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of individuals to contribute to the political causes or candidates of their choice. Political activity would obviously be chilled if prospective contractors have to fear that their livelihood could be threatened if the causes they support are disfavored by the Administration.”
The Senators go on to write that “the fact that the EO would require such information to be submitted directly to contracting agencies creates, at the very least, the appearance that contract award decisions could be predicated on—or influenced by—political contributions or considerations.”
The Senators ask the President to explain how information regarding political contributions of potential federal contractors would be used in making decisions about who wins a federal contract? The letter also requests any legal or other analysis the Administration has conducted to determine that requiring two years’ worth of information about political contributions from potential contractors prior to awarding contracts would not chill the First Amendment rights of these contractors.
In addition to Senators McConnell and Collins, a complete list of the signers to the letter to the President is below.
Orrin G. Hatch
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Scott P. Brown