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The People’s Business: Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors

President Obama’s draft executive order to require government contractors to disclose political spending will prevent corruption and save taxpayer dollars by bringing transparency to political spending.

  • Elizabeth Kennedy
  • Adam Skaggs
Published: June 16, 2011

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Amer­ican voters have a right to know who is spend­ing money to influ­ence elec­tions and curry favor with their elec­ted offi­cials.  As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in its 2010 decision in Citizens United, the disclos­ure of polit­ical spend­ing “enables the elect­or­ate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to differ­ent speak­ers and messages.”[1]  As more money pours into our polit­ical system on the heels of Citizens United, which enabled corpor­a­tions to spend directly from their treas­ury funds to influ­ence elec­tions, it is more import­ant than ever that all polit­ical spend­ing be done in the open. 

Trans­par­ency in polit­ical spend­ing is partic­u­larly import­ant when the spend­ing is done by those who seek to do busi­ness with the govern­ment—and to receive taxpayer dollars through public contracts.  Without sunlight on polit­ical spend­ing by those compet­ing for govern­ment contracts, the public cannot detect if poten­tial contract­ors are provid­ing finan­cial support to those in charge of the govern­ment’s busi­ness decisions in order to increase the like­li­hood of receiv­ing public contracts.  Disclos­ure of contractor polit­ical spend­ing promotes account­ab­il­ity, and guar­an­tees that the federal govern­ment contract­ing process is free from pay to play corrup­tion and polit­ical favor­it­ism.

The Obama admin­is­tra­tion, commend­ably, is poised to take a crucial step toward clean and account­able govern­ment spend­ing.  It has draf­ted an exec­ut­ive order that would increase trans­par­ency in the federal contract­ing process by requir­ing compan­ies bidding on contracts to disclose their polit­ical spend­ing. 

The draft exec­ut­ive order will bring trans­par­ency and account­ab­il­ity to the public contract­ing process.  It will prevent corrup­tion and save taxpay­ers millions, if not billions, of dollars.  Without trans­par­ency, corrup­tion in the contract­ing process can lead to sweet­heart deals that bene­fit the recip­i­ent of the contract and the recip­i­ent of polit­ical contri­bu­tions at the expense of tax-payers.  With the amount of money flow­ing into our elec­tions explod­ing—much of it in the form of secret­ive, undis­closed spend­ing—the need for the exec­ut­ive order is acute.

Large major­it­ies in both houses of Congress recog­nized the toxic prob­lem of secret polit­ical spend­ing and voted last year to go far beyond what the draft exec­ut­ive order requires, by requir­ing compre­hens­ive disclos­ure of all polit­ical spend­ing, even by entit­ies not seek­ing federal contracts.  The proposed trans­par­ency bill, the DISCLOSE Act, passed the House and netted 59 votes in the Senate, ulti­mately fall­ing a single vote shy of the 60 needed to defeat a fili­buster.  Compre­hens­ive disclos­ure legis­la­tion remains a vitally import­ant goal to ensure that the deep-pock­eted special interests seek­ing to domin­ate our elec­tions do not succeed in captur­ing our demo­cracy.  But in the face of legis­lat­ive intransigence it is import­ant—and entirely appro­pri­ate—­for the exec­ut­ive to exer­cise the full extent of its more limited author­ity by bring­ing disclos­ure to those who would do busi­ness with the govern­ment.  

Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.

Trans­par­ency in polit­ical spend­ing by govern­ment contract­ors is neces­sary to protect the integ­rity of the federal contract­ing process, and to ensure that we do not have a pay-to-play system in which taxpayer dollars are doled out in exchange for polit­ical payments.  Too often, as discussed below, polit­ics and procure­ment are linked, and that betrays both the public trust and the public fisc.  The proposed exec­ut­ive order will solve this prob­lem.

Accord­ing to its crit­ics, the draft exec­ut­ive order will inject polit­ics into the contract­ing process, and will allow the admin­is­tra­tion to compile a Nixonian “enemies list” to black­list compan­ies that back admin­is­tra­tion crit­ics.  These cynical argu­ments are funda­ment­ally misguided.  They ignore the fact that, as it is, politi­cians typic­ally know who is donat­ing and bene­fit­ing from polit­ical spend­ing—and there­fore, who to reward with lucrat­ive contracts.  The only people who don’t know are the Amer­ican people.  With disclos­ure, they will be able to monitor contract­ing—and prevent corrup­tion.

Given the amounts at stake, this is crucial.  Hundreds of billions of dollars are handed out in federal contracts every year, many of them with little to no mean­ing­ful compet­i­tion—­be­ly­ing the argu­ment that compet­it­ive bidding provides suffi­cient protec­tion against pay-to-play corrup­tion.  A 2007 report from Repres­ent­at­ive Henry Waxman, More Dollars, Less Sense, repor­ted that more than half of annual federal procure­ment spend­ing—over $200 billion in new contract­s—was awar­ded without full and open compet­i­tion, and about half of that amount, $103 billion, was spent on no-bid contracts, which have no compet­i­tion at all.[2] Moreover, in 2006, of contracts that were putat­ively awar­ded through “full and open compet­i­tion,” a full $47.7 billion worth of contracts were awar­ded after the govern­ment received only a single bid.[3]  The Waxman report also found evid­ence of signi­fic­ant waste, fraud, abuse or misman­age­ment in contracts with a cumu­lat­ive total of $1.1 tril­lion.[4]  

Federal agen­cies spent about $535 billion in fiscal 2010 on govern­ment contracts.  Accord­ing to the Sunlight Found­a­tion’s Paul Blumenthal, thirty-three of the forty-one compan­ies listed in the top one hundred campaign contrib­ut­ors in the past two decades are recip­i­ents of federal contracts.[5]  With this many dollars at stake, it is crucial to take every step to ensure that any oppor­tun­it­ies for fraud, waste, or corrup­tion are fore­closed.

The history of contract­ing scan­dals shows that the risk of corrup­tion is high.

Without trans­par­ency to discour­age polit­ical favor­it­ism, there is a seri­ous threat of corrup­tion.  Multi-million dollar federal contracts have been exchanged for gifts and bribes.[6]  Moreover, for years big campaign contrib­ut­ors have been rewar­ded with Congres­sional earmarks.  As repor­ted in the New York Times, a report from a Congres­sional ethics commit­tee “acknow­ledged that there was a ‘wide­spread percep­tion’ among recip­i­ents of earmarks in the private sector that giving polit­ical dona­tions to members increased their chances of getting earmarks.”[7]  Comment­ing on an attempt to reform the earmark process, Congress­man David Obey said “It will be far more open and trans­par­ent than during the ‘good old days’ when a commit­tee chair­man would simply pick up the phone and instruct govern­ment agen­cies to fund member requests behind the scenes with no trans­par­ency, no finger­prints, and no public account­ab­il­ity.”[8]

A lengthy series of pay-to-play scan­dals[9] in analog­ous state contract­ing processes under­lines the seri­ous danger of corrup­tion in govern­ment contract­ing:

  • In New Jersey, the state awar­ded an almost $400 million contract to privat­ize auto­mobile inspec­tions to the sole bidder, Parsons Infra­struc­ture & Tech­no­logy Group, Inc., in a process where Parsons emerged as the only bidder.  A subsequent invest­ig­a­tion concluded that the company had adop­ted a “polit­ical strategy” to win the contract through campaign contri­bu­tions and lobby­ing:  entit­ies that made up the Parsons corpor­ate family contrib­uted more than half a million dollars to candid­ates and polit­ical commit­tees.  In the end, at least $200 million of taxpayer money was wasted in the pay-to-play boon­doggle.[10]
  • In 2004 Former Connecti­cut Governor John Rowland resigned after alleg­a­tions that he had received over $100,000 worth of campaign contri­bu­tions and gifts from state contract­ors in exchange for help­ing to arrange state contract­s—he pled guilty and went to prison.  His successor, Governor Jodi Rell, a Repub­lican, led efforts to enact a law prohib­it­ing state govern­ment contract­ors, and their prin­cipals, from making contri­bu­tions to candid­ates and polit­ical parties.[11]
  • Invest­ig­a­tions into the cost­li­est public works project in history, Massachu­setts’ Big Dig, showed that the contractor and its prin­cipals had contrib­uted $225,000 to govern­ment offi­cials, who then helped the company avoid much needed scru­tiny as they racked up a final price-tag estim­ated at around $22 billion.[12]
  • In Illinois, former Governor Rod Blago­jevich was impeached and is being re-tried on charges of enga­ging in pay-to-play prac­tices.[13]  The Illinois legis­lature had over­rid­den his veto to pass a ban on contri­bu­tions from contract­ors to govern­ment offi­cials who admin­is­ter the contracts.  Accord­ing to testi­mony at his first trial, Blago­jevich was concerned with rais­ing as much as possible before the law became effect­ive.[14]  The legis­lature was spurred to action after the previ­ous Governor, George Ryan, was jailed for exchan­ging state busi­ness for money and gifts, with the prosec­utor noting “He might as well have put up a ‘For Sale’ sign over [his] office.”[15]
  • Dr. Roland Zullo of the Univer­sity of Michigan stud­ied contractor contri­bu­tions in Wiscon­sin from 1991–2000, and found that contri­bu­tions were timed with contract­ing decisions; that dona­tion activ­ity peaked in the months when contracts were approved; and that “patterns of polit­ical giving reflect stra­tegic expendit­ures during the nego­ti­ation phase” of the procure­ment process.[16]  An earlier study by Dr. Zullo uncovered a rela­tion­ship between the size of state high­way construc­tion projects awar­ded to certain contract­ors, and the magnitude of their dona­tions, support­ing the percep­tion that polit­ical contri­bu­tions allow a select group of contract­ors to domin­ate govern­ment contract­ing and under­mine the compet­it­ive bidding process.[17]  

The draft exec­ut­ive order ensures that polit­ical favor­it­ism does not corrupt the govern­ment contract­ing process.

The draft order would have a wide­spread impact on dark polit­ical spend­ing by bring­ing to light the flow of contractor money in polit­ics in at least two crucial ways.

First, the draft order would require public disclos­ure of dona­tions to third party groups where the contractor knows or expects that the money will be used to influ­ence elec­tions.  Under exist­ing regu­la­tions (as explained, below), a contractor may funnel money, anonym­ously, through a third party group that uses it for elec­tion­eer­ing without reveal­ing the source of the funds.  Disclos­ure of contri­bu­tions to third party groups (other than to Polit­ical Action Commit­tees, which already disclose their donors) repres­ents a more compre­hens­ive and thor­ough disclos­ure of polit­ical spend­ing than is currently required. This will elim­in­ate the possib­il­ity that those compet­ing for federal contracts seek payback based on polit­ical spend­ing that is veiled from the public—even if it is acknow­ledged with a wink to those who control govern­ment contracts.

Second, the draft order would shed light on polit­ical spend­ing by indi­vidu­als asso­ci­ated with federal contract­ors.  Under current law, although the contract­ing entity itself is barred from making certain expendit­ures or contri­bu­tions, officers and direct­ors, or subsi­di­ar­ies and parent compan­ies can make these same expendit­ures and contri­bu­tions.  Some of this inform­a­tion is report­able by the recip­i­ents, but even this report­ing does not neces­sar­ily reveal the connec­tions to the contractor.  The draft exec­ut­ive order says that disclos­ure shall include all contri­bu­tions or expendit­ures to, or on behalf of, candid­ates, parties or commit­tees made by the bidding entity, and expands the scope of disclos­ure to cover the contract­or’s officers and direct­ors, and its subsi­di­ar­ies and affil­i­ates.  This enables a much greater under­stand­ing of a contract­or’s full involve­ment in influ­en­cing elec­tions and curry­ing favor with elec­ted repres­ent­at­ives.

The draft exec­ut­ive order augments exist­ing federal protec­tions against pay to play corrup­tion.

Protect­ing against the dangers of pay-to-play corrup­tion is noth­ing new, even on the federal level.  The Secur­it­ies Exchange Commis­sion (SEC) issued a rule last year barring contri­bu­tions from those seek­ing to do busi­ness with public pension funds, to protect the funds from corrup­tion. When it was announced, Chair of the SEC Mary Shapiro explained:

An unspoken, but entrenched and well-under­stood prac­tice, pay to play can also favor large advisers over smal­ler compet­it­ors, reward polit­ical connec­tions rather than manage­ment skill, and—as a number of recent enforce­ment cases have shown—pave the way to outright fraud and corrup­tion….  Pay to play prac­tices are corrupt and corrupt­ing…. They harm bene­fi­ciar­ies, muni­cip­al­it­ies and honest advisers. And they breed crim­inal beha­vior.[18]

This prob­lem of pay-to-play on the federal level was first addressed in 1994.  The SEC approved one of the first effect­ive pay-to-play restric­tions in the nation, which effect­ively banned campaign contri­bu­tions from bond deal­ers to muni­cipal offi­cials respons­ible for award­ing govern­ment contracts to handle muni­cipal secur­it­ies. The SEC concluded that these pay-to-play prac­tices cost taxpay­er’s money by “foster­ing a selec­tion process that excludes those firms that do not make contri­bu­tions, causes less qual­i­fied [contract­ors] to be retained, and under­mines equit­able prac­tices in the muni­cipal secur­it­ies industry.”[19]  This rule was upheld by a federal appeals court.[20]

Congress has also recog­nized that pay-to-play prac­tices are corrupt and corrupt­ing, and has passed legis­la­tion to prohibit federal contract­ors from making certain contri­bu­tions or expendit­ures directly to a candid­ate or polit­ical party, or for any polit­ical purpose.[21]  Nonethe­less, exist­ing rules govern­ing polit­ical spend­ing by govern­ment contract­ors, and disclos­ure rules gener­ally, have not kept up with the chan­ging land­scape of money in polit­ics.  As the 2010 elec­tions demon­strated, those who want to influ­ence our elec­tions without leav­ing their names are able to shield their spend­ing through third party groups which are not required to disclose their donors to the public. The draft exec­ut­ive order would require contract­ors to disclose their contri­bu­tions to third party groups when that money will be used to influ­ence elec­tions, which will enhance the goals of trans­par­ency and account­ab­il­ity.

Oppon­ents of the order argue that it is unne­ces­sary because of the ban on direct contractor contri­bu­tions. But despite the contri­bu­tion ban, there are several aven­ues through which contract­ors can engage in favor-seek­ing through polit­ical spend­ing.  First, they may set up polit­ical action commit­tees, which, in turn, can make direct contri­bu­tions and expendit­ures on behalf of candid­ates.[22]  This polit­ical activ­ity is disclosed, however, because PACs disclose their contrib­ut­ors and expendit­ures, limit­ing concerns implic­ated by secret­ive, undis­closed spend­ing.[23]

In addi­tion, there are loop­holes that allow contract­ors to spend money, secretly, to influ­ence elec­tions.  As a result, there is no public account­ab­il­ity for any result­ing polit­ical favors that this spend­ing might purchase.  Among the exist­ing loop­holes in the regime that discour­ages pay-to-play spend­ing by contri­bu­tions are the follow­ing:

  • A contractor may give to a group that runs advert­ise­ments expressly advoc­at­ing a candid­ate’s elec­tion or defeat without coordin­at­ing with the candid­ate.  These advert­ise­ments, referred to as “inde­pend­ent expendit­ures,” are run by non-candid­ate groups and include state­ments like  “Vote for Smith,” “Vote against Jones,” or “Defeat Miller.”  Federal law and FEC regu­la­tions bar contract­ors from making contri­bu­tions or expendit­ures for any polit­ical purpose or use. [24]  However, groups that run these ads don’t have to disclose their under­ly­ing donors unless those donors ear-mark their contri­bu­tions as being specific­ally “for the purpose of” paying for the ads.  All any donor want­ing to remain anonym­ous has to do, then, is to hand over a check to a group that will run these ads without expressly stat­ing that the check is “for the purpose of” running the ads.  Very few contrib­ut­ors ever earmark their contri­bu­tions in this way, because it is entirely unne­ces­sary:  Both the donor and the recip­i­ent under­stand what the money will be used for without the contrib­utor having to say so expli­citly.  This use of third party groups that do not disclose under­ly­ing donors is the primary way that so much dark money flowed into the 2010 elec­tion.  Given this loop-hole, it is possible that a federal contract seeker or contractor could contrib­ute to groups that spend money to advoc­ate the elec­tion or defeat of a candid­ate without disclos­ure or account­ab­il­ity.
  • After Citizens United, contract­ors can spend their company’s money directly to influ­ence elec­tions through advert­ise­ments that are aired close to an elec­tion and clearly identify a candid­ate—but that do not expressly urge view­ers to vote for or against that candid­ate by using magic words like “elect” or “defeat.”  These ads, known as “elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions,” typic­ally air on the eve of an elec­tion and urge voters to do things like “Call Senator Smith and ask why she refuses to defend our chil­dren.”   Under current law, contract­ors can spend treas­ury funds directly on these types of advert­ise­ments, though they must disclose that spend­ing.  A corpor­a­tion will not have to disclose such spend­ing, however, if it simply contrib­utes to another organ­iz­a­tion that will use the company’s money to pay for these advert­ise­ment­s—as long as the donor does not earmark their support “for the purpose of” paying for the elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions.  Thus, any contract seeker or federal contractor can easily avoid disclos­ure simply by donat­ing to a third party organ­iz­a­tion that will run these ads with the tacit—but unspoken—desire that the dona­tion be used for elec­tion­eer­ing. [25]

In short, although contract­ors are barred from making direct contri­bu­tions to polit­ical parties and candid­ates, under exist­ing law they are able to funnel their company’s money to third party groups that they know will spend the money to influ­ence elec­tion­s—and there is no require­ment that this flow of money be exposed to the light of day. And while the third party groups that take contractor money to pay for inde­pend­ent expendit­ures or elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions them­selves must disclose their iden­tit­ies, these groups do not have to disclose their under­ly­ing donors unless those donors expli­citly earmark their contri­bu­tions for the purpose of making inde­pend­ent expendit­ures or elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions.  Very few do, with the inev­it­able result that much polit­ical spend­ing by compan­ies receiv­ing billions of dollars in govern­ment contracts occurs in the dark, with no account­ab­il­ity or public scru­tiny.  This opens the door to corrup­tion and the appear­ance of corrup­tion.  The draft exec­ut­ive order would close these loop­holes so that contract­ors who use these aven­ues to spend money to influ­ence elec­tions and curry favor with elec­ted offi­cials must do so in the light of day.

Many States have enacted rules to protect against pay-to-play corrup­tion and the appear­ance of corrup­tion, and these States have not seen the politi­cized contract­ing that crit­ics warn about.

The exper­i­ence of numer­ous States with pay to play laws defeats the argu­ment that disclos­ure of spend­ing goes too far and risks politi­ciz­ing the contract­ing process.  Many juris­dis­c­tions both require that polit­ical spend­ing by contract­ors be disclosed, as the draft exec­ut­ive order would accom­plish, and then go much further by banning contractor contri­bu­tions in order to protect against corrup­tion and the appear­ance of corrup­tion.  None of these states have seen heightened politi­ciz­a­tion of the contract­ing process—or the compil­a­tion of contract­ing black list­s—as crit­ics of the draft exec­ut­ive order warn would take place were there trans­par­ency of polit­ical spend­ing around federal contract­ing.

Connecti­cut, South Caro­lina, West Virginia, Hawaii, and Illinois have outright bans on contri­bu­tions by the contract­ing entity or its prin­cipals.[26]  Other states have chosen to clean-up and protect their contract­ing process by impos­ing contri­bu­tion limits on contract­ors.  New Jersey, Ohio, and Kentucky have limits on the amounts that a contract­ing entity, and some­times its prin­cipals, can contrib­ute.[27]  All of these states also require disclos­ure.  There are two states that require only disclos­ure of campaign contri­bu­tions, and some which require disclos­ure from all govern­ment contract­ors and bans on others:

  • Mary­land requires public contract­ors to disclose their campaign contri­bu­tions, and does not other­wise limit them. There is a two year “look back” provi­sion—they must report their contri­bu­tions for the prior 24 months at the time of the contract award, and must then file semi-annual reports.[28]  Maryland’s law applies to contracts over $100,000 and where contri­bu­tions to a candid­ate are over $500.[29]  Import­antly, it covers contri­bu­tions by the contract­ing entity’s officers, direct­ors, and part­ners.[30]
  • Rhode Island also only requires report­ing of campaign contri­bu­tions, also for two years prior to the contract date.[31] It covers the contract­ing entity, its prin­cipals and their family members, and parent or subsi­di­ary compan­ies of the contractor.[32]
  • New Mexico requires only disclos­ure from all prospect­ive govern­ment contract­ors for the two years prior to submit­ting an offer for a compet­it­ive contract.[33]  The state does have some pay-to-play bans: contri­bu­tions are banned during the nego­ti­ation period for no-bid contracts;[34] casino contract­ors are also banned from making contri­bu­tions.[35]
  • Pennsylvania requires busi­nesses that have been awar­ded no-bid contracts to disclose all polit­ical contri­bu­tions by its officers, direct­ors, part­ners, and many other covered persons.[36]  Pennsylvania also bans polit­ical contri­bu­tions by those who wish to contract with the state’s muni­cipal pension system.[37]
  • Cali­for­nia has rules requir­ing only disclos­ure of campaign contri­bu­tions for some of its public pensions[38] and its lottery system,[39] and does not other­wise limit or ban them.

Import­antly, all these anti-corrup­tion rules stand on firm consti­tu­tional foot­ing.  Not only has disclos­ure of polit­ical spend­ing been upheld in a long line of Supreme Court cases, includ­ing Citizens United—which upheld disclos­ure by a near unan­im­ous, 8–1 vote—a total ban on contri­bu­tions by contract­ors, and its prin­cipals, was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last year.[40]

*          *          * 

By bring­ing sunlight to the polit­ical spend­ing of govern­ment contract­ors, the Obama admin­is­tra­tion’s draft exec­ut­ive order will give the public and watch­dog groups a power­ful tool to ensure that corrup­tion in govern­ment contract­ing does not corrode the legit­im­acy of the federal govern­ment.  Doing so will save taxpay­ers money and not only fight corrup­tion, but prevent the appear­ance of corrup­tion and polit­ical favor­it­ism that under­mines confid­ence in the govern­ment.  Signi­fic­antly, a long and unbroken chain of U.S. Supreme Court preced­ents has upheld disclos­ure of polit­ical spend­ing, and the draft exec­ut­ive order stands on rock-solid consti­tu­tional ground.  Pres­id­ent Obama should sign the order without delay.


[1] Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876, 916 (2010).

[2] Major­ity Staff of H. Comm. on Over­sight and Gov’t Reform, 110th Cong., More Dollars, Less Sense: Worsen­ing Contract­ing  Trends Under the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, at i (Comm. Print 2007), avail­able at http://over­sight-archive.waxman.house.gov/features/moredol­lars/moredol­lars.pdf.  The 2007 report also found that “[t]he top six recip­i­ents of federal contracts are Lock­heed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grum­man, Raytheon, General Dynam­ics, and Hallibur­ton. Collect­ively, they received $99.9 billion in 2006, 24% of all federal procure­ment spend­ing.” Id. at 5.

[3] Id. at 8.

[4] Id. at 11.

[5] Richard Wolf, Obama proposal could shed light on campaign cash, USA Today, Apr. 22, 2011, http://content.usat­oday.com/communit­ies/theoval/post/2011/04/obama-proposal-could-shed-light-on-campaign-cash-/1.

[6] Jack Healy, 2 U.S. Contract­ors Indicted in Iraq Bribery Inquiry, N.Y. Times, May 30, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/world/middleeast/31iraq.html.

[7] Eric Licht­blau, Earmark Abuse Feared After Ethics Panel Ruling, N.Y. Times, Mar. 4, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/us/polit­ics/05eth­ics.html.

[8] On Congress, Pelosi, Hoyer, Obey announce earmark reforms, Politico, March 11, 2009, http://www.politico.com/blogs/glen­nthrush/0309/Pelosi_Hoyer_Obey_announce_earmark_reforms.html.

[9] These scan­dals are discussed at greater length in a memor­andum produced by Public Citizen. See Memor­andum from Craig Holman, Public Citizen, to Spen­cer Over­ton, Prin­cipal Deputy Attor­ney General, Office of Legal Policy, U.S. Depart­ment of Justice, RE: Case record on pay-to-play restric­tions strength­en­ing the compet­it­ive bidding process for high­way contracts, Public Citizen (Jan. 13, 2010), avail­able at http://www.citizen.org/docu­ments/Pay to Play memo.pdf.

[10] Comm’n of Invest­ig­a­tion, State of New Jersey, N.J. Enhanced Motor Vehicle Inspec­tion Contract 1­–6 (March 2002), avail­able at http://www.state.nj.us/sci/pdf/mvin­spect.pdf.

[11] Rell signs legis­la­tion limit­ing campaign contri­bu­tions, News­Times (Dec. 8, 2005),  http://www.news­times.com/news/article/Rell-signs-legis­la­tion-limit­ing-campaign-76168.php.

[12] Raphael Lewis and Sean P. Murphy, Lobby­ing Trans­lates into Clout, Boston Globe, Feb. 11, 2003, avail­able at http://www.boston.com/globe/metro/pack­ages/bechtel/021103.shtml.

[13] Kris Alin­god, Blago­jevich Takes Stand in Corrup­tion Trial, All Head­line News (May 26, 2011),  http://www.allhead­line­news.com/articles/90049744?Blago­jevich%20takes%20stand%20in%20cor­rup­tion%20trial.

[14] Mike Robin­son and Michael Tarm, Alonzo Monk: Obama Stopped Blago­jevich Senate Deal with Emil Jones, Huff­ing­ton Post (June 10, 2010), http://www.huff­ing­ton­post.com/2010/06/10/alonzo-monk-obama-phone-c_n_608220.html.

[15] Eric Ferken­hoff, The Governor Goes Down, Time, Apr. 17, 2006, avail­able at http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1184377,00.html.

[16] Roland Zullo, Public-Private Contract­ing and Polit­ical Reci­pro­city, 59 Pol. Res. Q., 273, 273 (2006)

[17] Roland Zullo, Campaign Dona­tions and Public Private Contracts: Wiscon­sin 1991–2000 1–2 (Univer­sity of Michigan, Insti­tute of Labor and Indus­trial Rela­tions 2003), avail­able at http://www.ilir.umich.edu/public­a­tions/dona­tion­sand­con­tracts.pdf.

[18] Mary L. Scha­piro, Chair­man, SEC, Open­ing State­ment at the SEC Open Meet­ing (June 30, 2010), avail­able at http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/2010/spch063010mls.htm.  Invest­ment advisers and others seek­ing to do busi­ness with the funds are now banned from donat­ing to offi­cials who influ­ence the process of choos­ing the invest­ment fund’s advisors. This reform is clearly in the interest of investors in those public funds, who want their funds admin­istered by advisors chosen based on merit, and it is in the interest of the general public, who deserve to be repres­en­ted by offi­cials who are not on the take. The need for this pay to play rule was demon­strated by the major corrup­tion scan­dal involving former New York Comp­troller Alan Hevesi, who pled guilty in 2010 to taking $1 million in gifts for him and asso­ci­ates in exchange for giving the contract to manage $250 million in pension invest­ments to a friend’s firm.

[19] In the Matter of Self-Regu­lat­ory Organ­iz­a­tions; Order Approv­ing Proposed Rule Change by the Muni­cipal Secur­it­ies Rule­mak­ing Board Relat­ing to Polit­ical Contri­bu­tions and Prohib­i­tions on Muni­cipal Secur­it­ies Busi­ness and Notice of Filing and Order Approv­ing on an Accel­er­ated Basis Amend­ment No. 1 Relat­ing to the Effect­ive Date and Contri­bu­tion Date of the Proposed Rule, Secur­it­ies Exchange Act Release No. 33868, at section V (April 7, 1994), (59 FR 17621 (Apr. 13, 1994)).

[20] See gener­ally Blount v. SEC, 61 F.3d 938 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

[21] 2 U.S.C. § 441c(a)(1) (2006).

[22] 2 U.S.C. § 441c(b) (2006).

[23] 2 U.S.C. § 434(a) (2006).

[24] 2 U.S.C. § 441c(a)(1) (2006); 11 C.F.R. § 115.2(a) (2011).

[25] The polit­ical activ­ity of contract­ors is regu­lated through the Federal Elec­tion Campaign Act (FECA) and the regu­la­tions the FEC developed in accord­ance with the Act.  “Elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions” are not defined in FECA or the imple­ment­ing regu­la­tions, and contract­ors there­fore are not subject to any special FEC rules regard­ing elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions.  (Elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions were defined (and regu­lated) only in the Bi-partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2003.)   Citizens United allowed corpor­a­tions to spend money inde­pend­ently to influ­ence elec­tions directly from their treas­ur­ies and struck down the restric­tions on corpor­a­tions enga­ging in elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions.  Thus, while contract­ors are still subject to inde­pend­ent expendit­ure restric­tions, they are allowed to spend their treas­ury money on elec­tion­eer­ing commu­nic­a­tions restric­tions. See State­ment of Cynthia L. Bauerly, Chair of the FEC, Report­ing Require­ments and the Treat­ment of Federal Contract­ors Under the Federal Elec­tion Campaign Act and FEC Regu­la­tions: Writ­ten testi­mony before House Commit­tee on Over­sight and Govern­ment Reform and the House commit­tee on Small Busi­ness, House of Repres­ent­at­ives, 112th Congress, 5 (2011), avail­able at http://www.fec.gov/members/bauerly/state­ments/bauerly_state­ment_05_10_2011.pdf.

[26] Karl J. Sand­strom and Michael T. Liburdi, Perkins Coie, Over­view of State Pay-to-Play Stat­utes 2–5, 11–13 (2010), avail­able at http://www.perkinscoie.com/files/upload/WP_10–05_Pay-to-Play.pdf.

[27] Id. at 5–6, 9–10.

[28] Md. Code, Elec. Law §§ 14–104(b)(1)(i), 14–104(b)(2)(i).

[29] Id. at §§ 14–101(b), 14–101(g)(1).

[30] Id. at § 14–105(a)-(d).

[31] R.I. Gen. Laws § 17–27–2.

[32] R.I. Gen. Laws § 17–27–1(7)(i).

[33] N.M. Stat. §§ 13–1–191.1(B), 13–1–112(A)(3).

[34] Id. at §13–1–191.1(E).

[35] Id. at § 11–13–1.

[36] 25 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3260a.

[37] Id. at 53 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 895.703-A(b).

[38] See, e.g., Cal. Gov’t Code § 20152.5, Cal. Educ. Code § 22363.

[39] Cal. Gov’t Code § 8880.57(b)(7).

[40] Green Party of Conn. v. Garfield, 616 F.3d 189, 192–93 (2d Cir. 2010); see also Stefan Passantino, Second Circuit Upholds Connecti­cut Pay-to-Play Law, Pay to Play Law Blog: Articles, Resources, Insights on Pay to Play Regu­la­tions on the Federal and State Level (July 21, 2010), http://www.payto­play­lawblog.com/2010/07/articles/connecti­cut/second-circuit-upholds-connecti­cut-payto­play-law/#more.