Issa's and Graves' Contractor Connections

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Tomorrow, the Committees on Oversight and Small Business will hold a joint hearing on a draft executive order by President Obama that would require certain government contractors to disclose the money they provide to influence elections.

As we noted yesterday in letters to six House Chairmen, many of those opposed to the measure are recipients of campaign cash from these same government contractors that could be affected. If procurement decisions could be influenced by disclosure of political spending, these people need to look in the mirror.

Chairs of the two committees, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) have benefitted significantly from the campaign cash of employees and political action committees of some of the country’s largest government contractors.

(Note: All campaign finance data comes from Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Government contract data was provided by FedSpending.org.)

Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairmen, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

  • During his time in Congress, Issa has received $70,250 in campaign contributions from the top five government contractors—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon.
  • Issa’s top career donor, the executives and PAC of SAIC Inc., has donated $66,950 to the California congressmen during his time in Congress. In 2009, SAIC received $1.6 billion in government contracts.

In 2007, Vanity Fair reported that SAIC “has been awarded more individual government contracts than any private company in America.”

Over the years, SAIC and its employees have pled guilty to fraud, paid fines, and fired whistleblowers.

  • British defense firm BAE Systems, whose employees and PACs have donated $38,100 to Issa, received at least $1.6 billion in federal contracts in 2009. In 2010, the company was fined $400 million because it “knowingly failed to ensure compliance with legal prohibitions on foreign bribery.”
  • Another major Issa donor, General Atomics (with $39,182 in career contributions), received at least $296 million in federal government contracts in 2009 alone.

General Atomics and its employees have been tied to FBI investigations in relation to scandals related to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and disgraced former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.).

In 2006, the Center for Public Integrity reported that from 2000-2005 General Atomics spent $660,000 on trips for lawmakers—the most by any company during that period.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Chairman, House Small Business Committee

  • Graves has received $36,500 from four of the top five contractors during his time in Congress--Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.
  • The employees and PAC of Honeywell have given Graves $28,000 since the 2008 election. Honeywell received at least $673 million in government contracts in 2009. According to the Project on Government Oversight, Honeywell has faced labor law violations, asbestos litigation, and other violations over the years.
  • Grave’s third-largest career contributor is Leggett & Platt (with $69,100 in donations), a manufacturing company. In 2008, the company received $1.3 million in government contracts.

Overall, members of the two committees received $445,910 in campaign contributions from the PACs and employees of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon in the 2010 cycle.