Court: No political contributions for personal service contractors

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It's legal to bar federal personal services contractors from contributing to federal political candidates, parties and committees, says a federal judge.

In a Nov. 2 decision (.pdf) from U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg, the court upheld a long-standing federal campaign and political action committee donation ban instituted by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972. The ban does not apply to someone employed by a firm that performs government work; rather, it applies those individuals with whom a federal agency has contracted with directly for the rendering of services.

Boasberg said the plaintiffs "seek to invalidate one of the harshest contribution restrictions in the U.S. Code." Two of the individuals contracted with the Agency for International Development, while the third plaintiff had a no-bid contract with the Administrative Conference of the United States.

While the scandals that birthed the FECA rule are old, Boasberg says their lessons are still fresh for the federal government. "Their experiences substantiate the corruption worries that attend contributions by government contractors." In the past, political parties have "made the continuation of government contracts hinge on political contributions--quid pro quo corruption," he adds.

Under this upholding of the law, personal services contractors cannot donate to any super PAC, they must avoid in-kind contributions to super PACs, and must still observe state and local laws concerning contractor donations.

For more:
- read Judge Boasberg's full opinion (.pdf)

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