Lawmakers on Thursday offered two competing amendments to a bill addressing the anonymous flow of taxpayer money to third party political groups. One would have required disclosure of such donations, the other would ban the government from doing anything to shed any light on the financial flows.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) said her amendment, which was ruled out of order, would “require that anyone that receives an appropriation, a contract, doing business with the federal government produce full disclosure relative to political expenditures.” She said it would eliminate “a dark corner of our system that is not being addressed.”
Her amendment was offered as a rebuttal to an amendment by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) which would ban the government from requiring disclosure of such donations. He’s offered similar amendments and introduced a self-standing piece of legislation to accomplish the same objective.
Eshoo told TPM that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is throwing a “sissy fit” over the prospect of companies that receive taxpayer money through federal contracts having to disclose their donations to third party groups.
“It’s a classic case of follow the money. [Republicans] were for it before they were against it,” Eshoo said. “They’re mounting an effort against it because they see how they win under the present set up. I think this is really a back door earmark, it has everything to do with the process here.”
“That must be highly menacing to them, it’s obvious — the national Chamber of Commerce is having a sissy fit, the uber organization for lobbyists, those that represent the lobbyists that represent lobbyists,” Eshoo said. Many members of the Chamber already voluntarily disclose their donations to third party political groups.
Eshoo said that Democrats need to do more to combat the Republican narrative on the executive order being considered by President Barack Obama. If passed that would would require companies bidding on federal contracts to disclose their donations to third-party groups. Republicans have painted the measure as a backdoor attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate political opponents.
“I think Democrats should take this up and create a real drumbeat on it,” Eshoo told TPM between votes. “Now the leader understood how important this was, spoke on the floor about it, as have other members, but do I think its raised to a level of where it should be? - no I don’t think so.”
“But you can see how the Republicans are - take the piece of candy away and they’re Pavlovian about it - cause it’s all about money,” Eshoo said.
Additional reporting by Igor Bobic.