Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How the Defence Industry Buys Washington

I haven't posted on this specific subject for some time and, given the upcoming midterm elections and the meeting between the leaders of Russia and the United States, I thought it was time to revisit one of the most powerful groups in the United States, the defence industry.  Thanks to Open Secrets, we have ready access to how much the defence sector has contributed to politicians and how much it spends on lobbying.  This is particularly pertinent given the hundreds of billions of dollars that are transferred from American taxpayers to a handful of companies every year. 

Let's start by looking at the defence industrys' contributions to those who are supposed to represent Americans in Washington.  Here is a graphic showing the sector's long-term political contributions:

In total, since 1990, the defence sector has donated $275.739 million to politicians/wannabe politicians with $74.3 million coming from individuals and $182.1 million coming from political action committees (PACs).  With data from only half of 2018 available, we can see that the current mid-term cycle could well be a record year for political contributions given that the former peak was $29.7 million and that we are already at $19.3 million.

Here is how the money has been split between Democrats and Republicans:

Since 1990, $114.8 million has been donated to Democrats (42 percent of the total) and $157.6 million (58 percent) has been donated to Republicans.

Here is a list of the defence companies that are the top contributors in the current cycle and which parties/groups have received these generous gifts:

Here is a listing of the top 20 donors and how their donations are split along party lines for the 2018 cycle:

The donations highlighted in green show those companies that have inconsistent distributions between the support of Democrats - Liberal and Republicans - Conservative outside spending groups.

Here is a summary listing of donations during the current cycle, how the donations are split along party lines for both the House and Senate and the average contributions made to the lucky members that received funding from the defence industry:

Going back to 1990, here is a list of the top twenty recipients of the defence industry's largesse:

Here are the top twenty recipients from the 2016 presidential election cycle:

Not surprisingly, John McCain appears well up in both lists given his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Now, let's look at the other key aspect of Washington, lobbying.  Here is a graphic showing how much the defense industry has spent on lobbying on an annual basis since 1998:

So far in 2018, the defense aerospace sector has spent $20,110,774 ($69.126 million in 2017), the defense electronics industry has spent $9.110,952 ($35,915,369 million in 2017) and the miscellaneous defense sector has spent $5,435,510 ($22,360,639 million in 2017).

Here is a graphic showing the number of defense sector lobbyists, working hard to get Washington to spend your tax dollars:

In total, the defense sector has 786 lobbyists in Washington (in 2018, down from a peak of 1303 back in 2007.  Of the total, 558 or 71 percent are considered "revolvers", that is, they are former White House employees that are now employed as lobbyists, consultants and strategists by K Street.

When we look at the defense sector's actions in Washington, both as political donors and as lobbyists, we can see why one can draw a pretty straight line between Washington and the military-industrial complex.  The defense sector is only too willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy Washington and those that we elect to serve us in Washington are only too willing to avail themselves of money from the sector of the economy whose job it is to design even more imaginative and high tech ways to kill people.

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