Contractors supplying US services must disclose 'dark money'

Major state contractors in Montana will be required to disclose all “dark money” spent in local elections under a new law being pushed through by the state’s governor.

Governor Steve Bullock, Democrat, is to sign an executive order requiring the recipients of government contracts, for goods over $50,000 and services contracts over $25,000, to disclose dark money spending in elections.

Only new contracts will be affected. Dark money refers to campaign contributions that are not required to be disclosed.

“Where Citizens United opened the door for a wave of dark money, Montana will again shine a light,” said Bullock. “Montana will again stand up for openness and fairness in politics. Because Montanans deserve a government that works for them, and only them.”

“Tattooed across NASCAR drivers’ jumpsuits and over every square inch of their cars are the logos of the companies sponsoring teams, underwriting the costs, and paying their salaries. Everyone can see who the drivers represent and who is footing the bill,” Bullock said.

“If elected officials are going to be like NASCAR drivers – sponsored and supported by various special interests – we ought to at least know who’s doing the sponsoring and spending.”

He claimed that no similar executive order exists at US federal levels and said if the federal government would not implement such rules to protect taxpayers “then we’ll do it here in Montana”.

He said that since taking office he has fought to keep dark money out of politics and championed measures to increase transparency in elections.

A 2010 US Supreme Court ruling, known as Citizens United, allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.

Since then non-profit groups that do not disclose their donors have spent $746m on swaying federal votes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a research organisation.

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