Over the weekend in part MCCLVII of this series we noted the PJM report that the Obama administration is circulating the draft of an executive order. The executive order would implement parts of the DISCLOSE Act by executive fiat, requiring the disclosure of “political spending” by the officers and directors of government contratctors (as well as their subsidiaries and affiliates). PJM posted the draft order here.
This morning NRO voices its editorial opposition to the draft order:
Federal contractors, it bears noting, already face disclosure rules. What the new restrictions would do is require Big Business to play Big Brother and keep tabs on employees’ private political activities. Which is to say, the same Democrats who decry the political influence of corporations want to empower — to require – those same corporations to spy on their workers in the name of political transparency. The political uses of a list of the political activities of a firm’s employees are obvious, and obnoxious.
Individuals making campaign donations already face disclosure rules, and the new restrictions the president contemplates would not shed any new light on the operations of American campaign finance. What they would do is have a chilling effect on the private political activities of a particular class of Americans, based simply on where they work, and provide the president with a handy device for aggregating his critics for future political retaliation. In short, this is Barack Obama forcing those he regards as his enemies to compile his enemies list for him.
I think the editorial overstates the scope of the rule — it applies to the officers and directors of federal contractors, as well as the contractor itself, but not to “employees.” Nevertheless, the substance of the editorial is right on.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal also devotes today’s lead editorial to the subject.