Endorsing an Executive Order
As a result of the 2009 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, corporations are not required to disclose their political donations. Additionally, there is no limit to how much money corporations can spend on such donations. President Obama is considering signing an executive order that will change part of that equation. The executive order would require corporations seeking to acquire government contracts to disclose their political donations made in the past two years. This executive order would by no means end the corporate manipulation of elections as we know it. However, it would help to curtail it.
The most important aspect of the executive order is that it would apply to corporate donations made to 527s. 527s are a specific type of political non-profit organization that does not need to disclose their donors. Since they do not need to disclose their donors, and corporations do not need to disclose their donations, it is virtually impossible to determine who is financing many political advertisements.
Most of the largest corporations in the US have some sort of contract(s) with the federal government. So, from oil companies, to defense contractors, to financial institutions, the executive order would give us a better idea of to whom corporations are giving political donations to, and how much they are giving.
We encourage President Obama to take this step in the right direction. At the same time, it is important to remember that it would only be a step, and not a solution. It would not change the fact that corporations can spend limitlessly in elections. It would not change the fact that billionaires can openly donate as much money as they want to Super PACs and 527s. It would not change the fact that politicians accept campaign donations in exchange for supporting corporate interests. It would not change the fact that five conservative Supreme Court justices opened the flood gates for the corporate manipulation of elections with a misguided decision in the Citizens United case.
It would not change any of those things, but it is the first step towards changing those things, and perhaps no step is as important as the first.
We encourage President Barack Obama to sign the executive order immediately.