President Obama could this week issue an executive order to force business  to disclose campaign contributions to qualify for government contractors, an attack on the First Amendment that would politicize federal contracting and inevitably lead to corrupting “pay for play” arrangements. This isn’t transparency, it’s brute politics.

The National Association of Manufacturers last week released a statement from NAM President Jay Timmons on the proposal, “Manufacturers: Presidential Executive Order Will Strip First Amendment Rights.” Timmons said:

President Obama’s plan to inject politics into the federal contracting process through an executive order is bad policy. Further, the matter already has been rejected by Congress.

While the NAM does not engage in political activity or have a political action committee, we are committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of manufacturing companies who participate in the government contracting process. The draft order would give this or any future Administration unchecked authority to discriminate against certain companies based on their past donations or engagement. This move is a sweeping effort to control personal political involvement through coercion.

Congress already rejected the DISCLOSE Act last year, legislation meant to squelch speech by groups disfavored by the Administration. That the President has plans to circumvent the legislative branch of government — circumvent the First Amendment — to restrict speech by a select, disfavored group of Americans is offensive.

Coverage, commentary ….

Kim Strassel, Wall Street Journal, “Obama’s ‘Gangster’ Politics“:

[The] order amounts to the White House brazenly directing the power of government against its political opponents—and at a time when the president claims to want cooperation on the budget and other issues. Senate Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Susan Collins are fuming, warning this is one political sucker punch too far, an unabashedly partisan move that will damage Senate work.

Minority Leader McConnell in an interview calls the order the “crassest” political move he’s ever seen. “This is almost gangster politics, to shut down people who oppose them. . . . I assure you that this going to create problems for them in many ways—seen and unseen—if they go forward.”