By MANDY SMITHBERGER
Are defense contractors' political contributions bearing fruit in the National Defense Authorization Act?
We can't help but wonder now that the Associated Press is reporting that GOP freshmen are taking care of their districts in the new defense bill and bringing in millions of dollars for programs the Pentagon doesn't want in some of their districts.
"The additions look suspiciously like the pet projects that Republicans prohibited when they took over the House and that the new class of lawmakers swore off in a promise to change Washington's spending habits," the AP drolly observes.
Three of the Members of Congress mentioned in the article—Reps. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Steven Palazzo (R-MS)—are part of the "Lucky 13," a group of freshman Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee who were featured at a fundraiser seeking contributions from defense contractors back in February. With the exception of Schilling (who according to Nick's analysis in April, didn't receive contributions from an identified defense contractor PAC in February) the Lucky 13 received $1,000 each at the fundraiser from Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon's (R-CA) 21st Century Fund (composed of the General Dynamics Voluntary Political Contribution Plan, SAIC, Inc. Voluntary Political Action Committee, and The Boeing Company Political Action Committee).
The new defense bill would add $2.5 million for weapons and munitions advanced technology in Schilling's district, $20 million for "mixed conventional load capability for Air Force bombers" housed in Hartzler's district, and $189 million in increased funding for shipbuilding programs, some of which occur in Rep. Steven Palazzo's district.
Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) insists that there are no earmarks in the defense bill. But Laura Peterson, a national security analyst with our fellow watchdogs at Taxpayers for Common Sense, told the AP that she saw "bells, whistles and worse" that were tacked on.
Mandy Smithberger is a POGO Investigator.
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