Good-government watchdogs or lapdogs?

Rick Manning Contributor
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The Obama administration has released a draft executive order that requires federal contractors to list their political contributions on their bids for new business from the federal government.

Under the guise of “increased transparency,” the administration proposal is a giant step backward for keeping politics out of the already unionized federal workforce.

What value could it possibly provide a civil servant contract administrator responsible for determining which bids qualify for consideration to know that blind bidder A gave money to President Obama, and blind bidder B gave money to his opponent?

This blatant interjection of politics into the federal contracting process is the greatest breach in the civil services immunity from undue political pressure since the passage of the Hatch Act.

What most people don’t realize is that presidential political appointees control the bonuses and in some cases step or grade increases of the career employees who work with them. This ability to reward those employees who go the extra mile to get the job done correctly and efficiently is critical to ensuring that the tenured career workforce remains responsive to the president’s direction.

Now, imagine the coercion possible when that same career official knows that the political operative who reviews his recommendation for letting a multimillion-dollar contract sees that the work is being given to a major contributor to the other political party over a contractor who is a “friend” of the administration.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that a contract administrator will feel the unstated pressure to give the contract to the donor who supports the president’s interests. Essentially, Obama’s draft executive order would make political investments more important than research and development ones in getting taxpayer-funded projects.

Not surprisingly, many in the mainstream media are hailing this move for “increasing transparency,” and Common Cause, that bastion of good-government pontification, did not even send out a press release on what is an obvious attempt to destroy the non-partisan nature of the federal bureaucracy.

The lack of outrage from the “good-government” left is nothing new.

A recent Daily Caller story entitled “IGs oversight and clout shrink under Obama” reveals the hypocrisy of these professional do-gooders, who were so prominent in the mainstream media during the Bush administration but now appear to have gone into the Witness Protection Program.

The story quotes Melanie Sloan, the head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a regular good-government attack dog in the legacy media during the Bush administration, admitting that she was unaware of the failure of the Obama administration to appoint inspectors general in 12 separate agencies and departments. To her credit, Ms. Sloan does admit that it is “troubling because the IGs are critical in combating waste, fraud and abuse.”

No kidding. What is more troubling is that Ms. Sloan was not even aware that no one is watching the store. Apparently, there just isn’t the call within the “good-government” contributor base to play watchdog over the Obama administration.

Another example is Common Cause’s website, which attacks Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia but has nothing negative to say about the Obama administration’s abysmal openness record.

Ironically, among a variety of projects Common Cause lists is one designed to keep the presidential campaign matching fund in place. In this initiative, Common Cause calls upon Congress to expand the fund. Yet there is only a passing reference in a news release elsewhere on the site that the current occupant of the White House destroyed the entire concept of presidential campaign limits in 2008 when he refused matching funds and outspent his opponent by more than a 3-to-1 margin due to this decision.

One would think that in the wake of Obama’s $35,800-per-person fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Chicago to kick off his campaign, that there might be a prominent call to their supporters to contact the president and urge him to keep the spending limits this year. Of course, if you thought this, you would be wrong, at least based on Common Cause’s website listing of press releases.

Whether it is not caring if the president politicizes the federal civilian workforce or not noticing that Obama has failed to even appoint twelve inspectors general, a skeptical person might believe that these so-called good-government watchdog groups are really nothing more than partisan lapdogs.

Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government.