As J. Clifford notes at Irregular Times, in April of 2011 President Barack Obama wrote a draft of an executive order (which you can read here) requiring all corporations contracting with the federal government to publicly disclose expenditures they make to political campaigns.
You might be wondering what the big deal is about this draft executive order (not yet in issued, and so not yet in effect). After all, don’t corporations already disclose their contributions to political campaigns through the Federal Election Commission? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, corporations are required to disclose contributions they make directly to candidates’ political campaigns through their corporate Political Action Committees (PACs). But no, corporations are NOT required to disclose the indirect contributions to they make to the “Section 501c4” groups that air advertisements for and against political candidates. They could be contributing billions of dollars to candidates’ campaigns and we’d never know about it. They may be doing so right now; the public doesn’t know and until Barack Obama signed his executive order the public wasn’t allowed to know. That’s why Barack Obama’s executive order matters.
That’s why the latest legislative amendment by Tom Cole matters, too. On July 15 2011, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2354, legislation to prohibit the implementation of Obama’s executive order for corporate contracts with the Department of Energy. Cole’s amendment would keep the unlimited 501c4 political contributions on behalf of candidates made by energy corporations covered up. Cole’s amendment (House Amendment 651) was passed by the House of Representatives along with the larger energy bill in Roll Call Vote #583 — and votes for the bill were not a matter of chance.
On an overwhelming basis (101 yes to 4 no with 4 absentees), members of Congress who received Exxon-Mobil PAC contributions in the first six months of 2011 voted to cover up the extent of secret 501c4 energy corporate contributions to members of Congress. These are exactly the members of Congress who are most likely to have been the beneficiaries of Exxon-Mobil’s 501c4 largesse.