Finding that the problem of corruption in government contracting is still a major civic scandal, a unanimous federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a new constitutional challenge to the seventy-five-year-old ban on political contributions by individuals who are hired under contract to do work for federal agencies — an increasing way that federal agency tasks get done. The sweep of the ruling by the en banc, eleven-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit would also appear to support the ban as it applies to business firms with federal contracts, even though the ruling was technically limited to individuals who act as federal contractors because those were the only challengers.
In the wake of a series of controversial Supreme Court decisions in recent years making the First Amendment a strong shield for a wide variety of campaign financing tactics, the Circuit Court ruling was a major victory for groups that contend that money is increasingly corrupting American politics.
The Circuit Court took advantage of the legal fact that older precedents by the Supreme Court, not undone by the new round of cases favorable to money in politics, had treated government contracting as an especially tempting arena to made a direct swap of political contributions for an award of public contracts.
The new ruling found that the donation ban for contractors still served two purposes: curbing the corrupt practice of giving money to politicians in return for government contracts, and in protecting the integrity of the contracting system that is supposed to be based upon merit and not political favoritism.
Full Article: Ban on contractors’ political donations upheld.