The Marine Retailers Association of America is one of more than 80 organizations to sign on to a letter asking President Barack Obama not to sign an executive order that would require companies to disclose their political spending — and that of their officers and directors — as a condition for bidding for federal contracts.
The letter, dated today, said the draft of the proposed order “suffers from severe legal and policy deficits and would, if signed, immediately damage the federal contracting process.”
Political spending covered by the draft is protected by the First Amendment, the groups said. Also, they noted, the federal procurement system already has several built-in safeguards that ensure contract awards are based on the merits of a proposal.
“Rather than strengthening these existing safeguards, the draft executive order would politicize the procurement process,” the letter states. “The proposed order will either encourage covered speakers to refrain from exercising their constitutional speech rights so as to avoid jeopardizing their competitiveness for federal contracts or it will encourage speakers to alter their political messages in ways perceived to increase their chances of being awarded federal contracts.
“Either is a problem under the First Amendment,” the letter adds.