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At a hearing today of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is expected to attack a Presidential plan to require government contractors to disclose their contributions to political groups. The hearing is a bold move for Issa, who only months ago founded the House Transparency Caucus with the declaration that "sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant."
The disclosure rule at issue is really just a small-bore response to last year's sweeping Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which opened the floodgates to corporate cash in elections. It focuses exclusively on federal contractors because they presumably have more incentive than other private companies to bribe and influence politicians. So why is Issa throwing a fit?
The answer, as with most things in politics, probably involves money. The union-backed group Chamber Watch has tallied up how much dark money went last year to support Republicans on the Oversight Committee and the Small Business Committee, which is co-hosting the hearing. The results are striking:
Evidence suggests that a large part of this dark money comes from companies that feed at the public trough. Board members of just one of those dark money groups, the US Chamber of Commerce, earned a collective $44 billion from federal contracts last year, according to Chamber Watch. Only 18 of the Chamber's 53 board members didn't land contracts with the federal government.