The News Without Transparency: Military Defense Contractors, Lobbyists Support Mrs. McKeon

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Military defense contractors and lobbyists are rushing to support the wife of Congressional House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon in her bid for California state assembly, according to a Salon article earlier this month.

The article reports that in the first few months of fundraising, Patricia McKeon was able to collect $19,200 from defense contractors or their lobbyists. This includes $3,000 from Lockheed Martin – a company currently locked in a battle to maintain funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet.  It also includes donations from lobbying firm Beau Boulter LLC, which lobbies on behalf of Proxy Aviations, and Bruce Leftwich, a DC-based government affairs specialist.

The California Secretary of State’s website provides campaign finance data for all candidates running for public office, including Patricia McKeon’s. The data can be searched by contributions received or made, expenditures made, late and high dollar contributions, and late independent expenditures. The contributions listed on Mrs. McKeon’s disclosure page include:

  • $3,000 given to Mrs. McKeon’s campaign on Oct. 28, 2011 from Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin.
  • $1,500 given to the campaign by the Arlington, VA lobby shop Beau Boulter on Dec. 29, 2011. The Center for Responsive Politics’ lobbying firm look up tool shows that in 2011 Beau Boulter LLC earned over $1.5 million from lobbying on behalf of several companies from the sea and air transport and defense industries.
  • $500 donated to Mrs. McKeon on Nov. 15, 2011 from DC lobbyist Bruce Leftwich. A search using Sunlight’s Influence Explorer indicates that in 2011-2012 Leftwich lobbied on veterans affairs and education issues along with the federal budget and appropriations. He also donated $2,000 to Mrs. McKeon’s husband, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), in 2007-2008.
  • The campaign finance data provided by the Secretary of State does not indicate the industry associated with the donations (where applicable), so the $19,200 from the defense industry reported by Salon was likely the result of manual research into the names of employers on Mrs. McKeon’s donation list. The National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics both provide research tools that associate individuals and corporations with an industry.

The article also reports that Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) has been the number one beneficiary of military industry campaign donations for 49 years. A search using Sunlight’s Influence Explorer shows the following:

  • The top industries supporting Rep. McKeon financially across all years include Defense Aerospace, Misc Defense, Defense Electronics, Lobbyists, and General Contractors.
  • Rep. McKeon was the number one beneficiary of the Defense Aerospace industry in 2011-2012.
  • He was also the number one recipient for campaign contributions from Beau Boulter LLC in 2011-2012. The other top beneficiaries of the lobby shop during the 2011-2012 election cycle were also all Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee.

“The News Without Transparency” shows you what the news would look like without public access to information. Laws and regulations that force the government to make the data it has publicly available are absolutely vital, along with services that take that raw data and make it easy for reporters to write sentences like the ones we’ve redacted in the piece above. If you have an article you’d like us to put through the redaction machine, please send us an email at mbuck@sunlightfoundation.com.

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