Contractor Contribution Ban Defended by Watchdogs in Appeals Court Filing

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, filed an amici brief in Wagner v. FEC opposing an effort to overturn the 70-year-old ban on campaign contributions by federal contractors. The case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after a federal district court upheld the ban in November of 2012.

“Government contracting is particularly susceptible to the pay-to-play system that prevails anywhere government contracts are handed out. This federal ban is a crucial check against the widespread scandals that have sent government officials to jail in cities and states across the country,” said Tara Malloy, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel. “Only the naïve or disingenuous will pretend that money does not change hands in order to buy influence and favor with those who write government checks, from Sacramento to Tallahassee and everywhere in between. The courts have long recognized the inherent susceptibility of the government contracting process and have repeatedly upheld this law and similar laws passed in states and municipalities nationwide. The plaintiffs ask the court to ignore those rulings and the reality of government contracting.”

This restriction on campaign contributions from persons and entities contracting with the federal government was enacted in 1940 to address corruption in federal contracting in the wake of persistent scandals, most notably the “Democratic campaign book” scandal.

In November 2012, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the FEC, finding that the law was enacted to “prevent corruption and the appearance thereof and, in so doing, to protect the integrity of the electoral system by ensuring that federal contracts were awarded based on merit.” The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed a brief in the district court defending the constitutionality of the government contractor ban and in support of the FEC’s motion for summary judgment.

To read the brief filed today by the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, click here

To read the District Court opinion granting summary judgment, click here.