Arms Industry Gave $1.1 Million to Super Committee Members

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  • Dale Eisman

Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 736-5770

William Hartung, CIP, (917) 923-3202

Former Staffers Now Lobbying for Defense Contractors

WASHINGTON, DC- Ten years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq has added billions to the bankrolls of America’s military contractors. Now, with deep national budget cuts almost certain, the arms industry is hoping that its reliable generosity to “super committee” members will save it from the scalpel.

“Tools of Influence: The Arms Lobby and the Super Committee,”a new report from the Center for International Policy and Common Cause, reveals the mutually beneficial and close ties between the arms lobby and super committee members. With Lockheed Martin leading the pack, the arms industry gave more than $1.1 million to super committee members over the past two election cycles.

“As the super committee moves towards its deadline for coming up with a deficit reduction plan, it is crucial that Pentagon spending be on the table,” said William D. Hartung, the author of the report and director of the Center for International Policy’s Arms and Security Project. “But the arms industry is doing everything in its power to keep that from happening.”

Common Cause President Bob Edgar, who called earlier on all super committee members to cease fundraising during the panel’s work, said the report makes “a compelling case for the need to change the way we fund our politics. As long as special interests, like the defense industry, are funding the re-election campaigns of members of Congress, critical public policy decisions will not be made in the interest of American families,” Edgar added.

The report’s key findings reveal an industry that spends generously on contributions to members of Congress, and maintains close professional ties with those who surround members.

Here’s a look:

Tools of Influence:

– The arms industry spent $144 million on lobbying in 2010.

– The industry employs over 1,000 lobbyists, nearly two for every member of Congress.

– Military contractors employed 682 “revolving door” hires in 2010 – individuals who oversaw arms companies while in government and then went on to work for those same firms.

Targeting the Super Committee:

– Super committee members have received over $1.1 million in donations from weapons contractors in the last two election cycles.

– Five former super committee staffers work now for at least one of the top 10 military contractors, including Boeing, General Dynamics Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. In all, 22 former staffers of super committee members serve as lobbyists for the arms industry.

Beyond the Super Committee: “Buck” to the Rescue?

– The battle over military spending will continue long after the super committee has closed up shop. The industry’s most aggressive advocate on Capitol Hill in the months and years to come likely will be House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, who has received over three quarters of a million dollars from arms companies since 2009.

“America spends more on defense than the combined totals of all our potential adversaries,” Edgar said. “There is plenty of room to make cuts that won’t endanger our security if Congress and the executive branch will put aside their political interest in cultivating big contributions from defense contractors and act instead in the national interest.”

“Will the super committee target wasteful and unnecessary Pentagon spending, or will the industry lobby succeed in blocking sensible reductions?” asks study author Hartung. “The public should be heard on the question of how much we need to spend to defend our country. We can’t let special interest money drown out other voices in the defense debate.”