You are hereNYT: Op-Ed: Some Sunshine for the Campaign Jungle

NYT: Op-Ed: Some Sunshine for the Campaign Jungle

April 30, 2011- When the Supreme Court legalized a new era of unrestrained corporate campaign spending, the court made a point of upholding disclosure of donors as an alternative safeguard for voters and the democratic process.

President Obama should take the court up on its transparency blessing forthwith and sign a proposed executive order that would require government contractors to disclose their donations to groups that support or oppose federal candidates. If they win, those would-be legislators or policy deciders will be able to reward these contractors with millions or even billions in government largess. The taxpayers have a right and need to know what favors are being curried.

The court’s Citizens United decision inspired a $138 million binge of hidden donors in last year’s midterm elections. It was a mere down payment by political machines that will flood the 2012 campaign with anonymous cash from corporations, unions and nonprofit groups.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an accomplished conduit for secret donors, is crying foul about the proposed executive order. But clearly the measure is needed to combat pay-to-play campaign abuses.

Democrats came close to passing a new disclosure law last year, but were stopped when Senate Republicans — who will benefit the most from stealth corporate donations — stood fast. The prospects with this Congress are, of course, far worse, and the checkbooks are already out.

Mr. Obama vowed to rein in campaign abuses. Now is not the time for him to flinch before noisy threats from the chamber and other deep-pocketed players.



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