Every year, the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars on federal contracts with companies that provide the government with essential goods and services.
Elected officials should make these contracting decisions solely with an eye on keeping the government operating effectively and efficiently — not on whether companies seeking contracts have given generously to their political committees.
Allowing federal contractors to make political contributions would foster a political culture where taxpayer-funded contracts appear to be awarded to the most generous campaign contributors, a system that is either blatantly corrupt or appears to be, fundamentally undermining the public’s trust.
That’s why federal campaign finance laws have for decades prohibited federal contractors from making political contributions to candidates or committees, including so-called outside groups like super PACs.
Yet in February 2022, Angel Staffing Inc., a medical services company based in San Antonio, Texas, made a $250,000 contribution to a super PAC, Protect and Serve PAC, while performing on nine federal contracts.
According to USASpending.gov, Angel Staffing has earned over $150 million from federal contract work over its 20-year history, and the company’s website lists as past clients the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Brooke Army Medical Center, a hospital run by the U.S. Army.
At the time of its six-figure political contribution, Angel Staffing had open contracts with the Defense Health Agency, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Air Force — all sub-agencies of the Department of Department.
By making this $250,000 contribution, Angel Staffing violated federal law. That’s why Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce the ban on contributions from federal contractors, urging the FEC to seek sufficient penalties, including a civil fine, to deter similar conduct.
The context of this contribution highlights the gravity of the corruption concerns implicated.
Angel Staffing’s $250,000 contribution provided virtually all of the funds that Protect and Serve PAC has received during the 2022 election cycle. The super PAC used virtually all of those funds — $245,000 — to support a single candidate, Willie Vasquez Ng, in the Republican primary election in Texas’s 28th congressional district.
That district includes part of San Antonio, where Angel Staffing’s corporate headquarters is located.
Public disclosure records indicate that Ng received the lion’s share of outside spending support in the GOP primary in Texas’s 28th district — all of it from Protect and Serve PAC — where over 450% more “independent” election spending supported Ng than all other GOP primary candidates combined Ng nevertheless placed fourth in the primary election and thus failed to qualify for the runoff.
To all appearances, Angel Staffing picked its favored candidate in a congressional race near its corporate headquarters and spent $250,000 to support him in his primary using a single-candidate super PAC as the vehicle for its election spending.
The corruption concerns raised by a federal contractor single-handedly spending to help a candidate win a congressional primary are patently clear.
The federal contractor contribution ban is a crucial bulwark against the development of a corrupt “pay-to-play” political system, and it’s important that it be enforced. Public officials should make decisions on how to spend our tax dollars based on what is best for the American people, not based on which companies have supported their campaign.
CLC will continue to monitor and pursue enforcement action when companies violate this key provision of our campaign finance laws.