Commentary: Some sunshine needed on U.S. political donations

The Star’s editorial | U.S. needs sunshine on political donations

President Barack Obama has proposed bringing needed financial disclosure to all government contractors. He should sign the executive order promptly.

Obama’s draft regulation requires companies seeking government contracts to disclose their last two years of political contributions, including donations to 501 (c)-style political action organizations, which currently serve as a conduit for anonymous and unlimited donations by individuals.

There is both bipartisan opposition and support for this order, but politicians who now receive secret election help are hardly the best judges. Thanks to lax disclosure laws, the outfits that spend millions to get the government they want into office (and in turn reap contracts worth many multiples of their donations) do so without public knowledge.

It is precisely because of such opposition that taxpayers have a right to worry that such an order is overdue. Adoption of this requirement gets at fundamental truths of American democracy: The people have a right to know, and the public’s business should be done in public.

Opponents argue that disclosure will politicize contracting, putting pressure on bureaucrats to chose contractors donating to their political bosses.

The reality is that disclosure ensures the process becomes less politicized and protects bureaucrats from political pressure. Recipients of political help, whether direct or indirect, always know who is helping them. Too many government contracts have been “pay to play.”

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansascity.com.