Board of Estimates approves ordinance requiring contractors to disclose 501(c)(4) contributions

The Board of Estimates approved an ordinance proposed by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin that would require businesses and groups contracting with the city to disclose contributions to certain kinds of political advocacy groups. The ordinance, which seeks to limit vendors doing business with the city from providing anonymous contributions to advocacy groups listed as 501(c)(4), was proposed in response to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case allowing unlimited corporate contributions to political groups so long as they remained independent of candidates and their committees.

Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, opposes the ordinance. In a statement, Brandon said that while the chamber supports transparency and a fair and equitable awarding of contracts, it takes issue with “the barriers [the ordinance] would impose to entrepreneurs attempting to do business with the city, the potential to chill political engagement, and the wrong message it sends that politics are important in the Madison procurement process.”