The Obama administration is drafting an executive order that would force companies vying for federal contracts to disclose their recent political contributions in the process, drawing a strong rebuke from the Senate's top Republican.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a scathing statement Wednesday, labeling the effort politically motivated and saying it amounts to "an effort to silence or intimidate political adversaries’ speech through the government contracting system."
A draft of the executive order reads, "every contracting department and agency shall require all entities submitting offers for federal contracts to disclose certain political contributions that may have been made within the two years prior to submission of their offer."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the executive order would be part of Obama's effort to increase transparency. He denied that electoral politics had anything to do with the order.
Carney said the president "believes very strongly" that taxpayers have a right to know how companies awarded government contracts are spending "in terms of political campaigns."
"And his goal is transparency and accountability," Carney told reporters. "That's the responsible thing to do when you're handling taxpayer dollars."
The executive order comes in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision last year, which paved the way for unlimited corporate and union spending in campaigns. The order includes all contributions to political parties or federal candidates or expenditures on their behalf and would require disclosure of contributions that exceed $5,000 in a given year.
McConnell says it's an "abuse of executive branch authority."
"Let me be clear: No White House should be able to review your political party affiliation before deciding if you’re worthy of a government contract," McConnell said in a statement. "And no one should have to worry about whether their political support will determine their ability to get or keep a federal contract or keep their job."
-Updated at 3:50 p.m.