Obama directive would politicize contracting, senator says

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, writing in Friday's Washington Post, excoriates the Obama administration over a draft executive order that would require government contractors to disclose political spending, arguing that the stipulation would "infuse politics into the contracting process."

"In true Orwellian fashion, the draft order suggests that the only way to keep politics out of the contracting process is to include political information with every contract offer," Collins writes, adding later that "this would inevitably have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of individuals to contribute to the political causes and candidates of their choice."

Collins's argument is an idealistic one: "The administration's proposal violates the fundamental principle that federal contracts should be awarded free from political considerations and be based on the best value to taxpayers."

Collins, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, charges that federal contracting officials would use the information to select the winning bidder. The order's proponents, meanwhile, note that since there are already so many suspicions about the politics involved in awarding federal contracts, putting everything on the table will only make the process fairer.

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