Obama May Force Federal Contractors to Disclose Donations to Political Groups

By Staff | April 21, 2011 | 6:51 AM EDT

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March, 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington (AP) - The White House says President Obama may require companies pursuing federal contracts to disclose their campaign contributions.

Spokesman Jay Carney says that would be achieved by a presidential executive order that's now being drafted.

With President Barack Obama officially a candidate for re-election, Carney denied any political motives behind the effort.

Carney said Obama wants to make the contracting system more transparent and more accountable because that's what U.S. taxpayers deserve. The spokesman talked to reporters as Obama flew to California for two days of public appearances mixing town hall meetings on the state of the economy with high-dollar campaign fundraisers.

The requirement is similar to a provision in a campaign finance bill blocked by Senate Republicans in the last Congress. It would have banned contractors from donating to federal candidates or parties.

Obama “believes very strongly that taxpayers deserve to know” how contractors are spending their money and how they’re spending in terms of political campaigns, the Washington Post quoted Carney as saying. “And his goal is transparency and accountability. That’s the responsible thing to do when you’re handling taxpayer dollars.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the move a "cynical attempt to muzzle" Obama's critics:

“Now, under the guise of ‘transparency,’ the Obama administration reportedly wants to know the political leanings of any company or small business, including those of their officers and directors, before the government decides if they’ll award them federal contracts,” the Washington Post quoted McConnell as saying.