In early June, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson tacked a “corporate death penalty” provision onto two House-approved federal spending bills that would withhold government funds from contractors who break the law.

“These amendments say that government contractors who lie, cheat, and steal will now get the death penalty,” Democrat Grayson wrote in an email to his supporters. “If you cheat the taxpayer, you’re toast. If you evade Federal taxes, it’s all over. If you rig bids or forge documents, goodbye to you. No more government contracts. And for government contractors, cutting off government money is a death sentence.”

In the letter, Grayson was cheeky about how he got a Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass the amendments. “I have a secret recipe for getting things done,” he wrote. “It’s called ‘trying.’ And it actually works.”

Of course, the amendments will be meaningful only if the Justice Department is willing to prosecute corporations that break the rules of their contract, and the public can’t be sure of that. Still, the amendments look set to enter the books. If they do, a legal justification would exist for prosecuting any business that breaks the rules laid down in those bills.

This is piecemeal legislation. It’s a start at holding corporations that do business with the government accountable. In the same email, Grayson vowed to attach “this corporate death penalty amendment to every bill [he] can.”

Here’s the text of the amendment:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract with any offeror or any of its principals if the offeror certifies, as required by Federal Acquisition Regulation, that the offeror or any of its principals:

(A) within a three-year period preceding this offer has been convicted of or had a civil judgment rendered against it for: commission of fraud or a criminal offense in connection with obtaining, attempting to obtain, or performing a public (Federal, State, or local) contract or subcontract; violation of Federal or State antitrust statutes relating to the submission of offers; or commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, tax evasion, violating Federal criminal tax laws, or receiving stolen property; or??

(B) are presently indicted for, or otherwise criminally or civilly charged by a governmental entity with, commission of any of the offenses enumerated above in subsection (A); or

(C) within a three-year period preceding this offer, has been notified of any delinquent Federal taxes in an amount that exceeds $3,000 for which the liability remains unsatisfied.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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