For over 35 years, government contractors have been prohibited from donating to political campaigns, but the super PAC supporting GOP front runner Mitt Romney is exploiting a grey area in the law to accept money from these companies.
A 1976 amendment to The Federal Election Campaign Act banned federal contractors from making “contributions to influence Federal elections.” The idea behind the law is to prevent companies from using taxpayer dollars to make contributions that could sway politicians to award them contracts. But when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision paved the way for super PACs, which can accept unlimited corporate contributions, the court didn’t clarify if that includes federal contractors.
Restore Our Future, the deep-pocketed super PAC backing Romney, has taken advantage of this ambiguity to raise $890,000 from at least five contractors that would be barred from giving to Romney’s campaign directly, the Los Angeles Times reports:
Other super PACs, including Republican-allied American Crossroads, and Priorities USA Action, which backs President Obama, have language on their websites warning that federal contractors are not allowed to make donations.
Restore Our Future does not list the prohibition on its website.
One company was apparently unaware of the federal law banning government contractor contributions, and when contacted by the Times, said it would ask Restore Our Future to return its contribution. Charlie Spies, a former Romney aide who is now Restore Our Future’s treasurer, failed to tell the company about the federal contractor ban when the company asked if their donation was legitimate.
The super PAC refused to comment to the Times.
Restore our Future has spent over $35 million so far to support Romney and attack his GOP opponents, far more than the super PACs backing the other candidates.