January 12, 2016

NM Senators ask Obama to take action on anonymous campaign donations

Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich want the president to take action on some anonymous campaign finance donations.

Hands With CashThe two were among 29 Senators who urged President Barack Obama to make the action after provisions in a recent spending bill would “roll back some efforts to bring greater transparency to political spending” according to a joint press release from the two New Mexico Senators.

Specifically, the Senators want Obama to address potential anonymous campaign finance contributions from federal contractors.

The letter, courtesy of Udall’s office, is available at the bottom of this post.

“Republicans secured language blocking the Internal Revenue Service from revising or issuing new rules governing the political spending of 501(c)(4) organizations,which some groups currently exploit to establish de facto political committees that can accept unlimited donations while enjoying both the anonymity and tax preferred status provided by 501(c)(4) status,” the letter states. “The omnibus also blocks the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing a regulation that would require public corporations to disclose their political donations.”

As one would expect from the language calling out Republicans, the letter is signed by Democratic members of Congress, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The letter asks for an executive order that would require federal contractors to disclose all political donations.

“The public deserves to know who is trying to influence them with political advertisements, and what business those responsible for such advertisements have before the government,” the letter states.

The letter also notes that the White House previously composed a draft executive order requiring these disclosures in 2011; this fell to the backburner between 2011 and 2012, which was an election year.

One of Udall’s priorities since becoming a U.S. Senator is on campaign finance reform. He is the sponsor of a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that made sweeping changes to campaign finance on all levels of politics.

“If companies are going to benefit from taxpayer money through government contracts, then they should be honest with the public about their political spending,” Udall said. “Until Congress acts to fix Citizens United and shine light on dark money in politics, the president needs to take steps to increase transparency.”

“Our nation’s democracy is founded on the right to vote and the ability of every citizen to participate in that process equally,” Heinrich said. “However, we’ve seen how the influence of unlimited campaign contributions and dark money in politics derails important issues that matter to working families in New Mexico — such as raising the federal minimum wage, ensuring equal pay for equal work, reducing student loan interest rates, and fixing our broken immigration system.”

The letter was sent on Jan. 7.