ARMS TRADE RESOURCE CENTER
Lockheed Martin and the GOP:
An Arms Trade Resource Center Issue Brief
I. Lott and Lockheed: Partners in Influence Peddling
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott kicked off the Republican National Convention a day early with a massive theme party and fundraiser near the campus of Drexel University. The party, which was attended by 1,500 faithful Lott supporters (plus one of the authors of this issue brief) was a lavish 1950s-style dance party emceed by Dick Clark with music by the Shirelles, Bobby Vee, and the Four Tops. The “Lott Hop,” as it was called, was bankrolled almost entirely by major corporations and industry associations, including the American Gas Association, International Paper, and Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest weapons contractor. Lockheed Martin, which has denied that it sponsored the event in an attempt to influence the most powerful man in Congress, donated $60,000 towards the event. The company has also pledged $1 million to the “Trent Lott Leadership Institute” at the University of Mississippi.
What does Lockheed Martin have to celebrate about Trent Lott? Lots! In the past few years, the majority leader has helped bail out multi-billion dollar Lockheed Martin projects like the F-22 fighter, a $70 billion program that was almost stopped in its tracks last year by Representatives Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Pennsylvania’s own Jack Murtha; the C-130 transport plane, which is routinely added to the Pentagon budget in quantities far beyond what the Pentagon requests; and the Theater High Altitude Area Defense project, THAAD, for which the company has just received a $4 billion multi-year contract despite the fact that it has failed in six of its eight tests.
II. Weapons Makers Largesse Favors Republicans
The relationship between Lott and Lockheed Martin is not unique. The top four missile defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, TRW, Boeing, and Raytheon — have made $6 million in political contributions in the current election cycle. The four firms also spent $34 million in lobbying in 1997/98 alone, a figure that will no doubt be exceeded when the final numbers of 1999/2000 are tallied. Ever since the Republicans took control of Congress in January 1995, major weapons contractors have favored them over Democratic candidates by a 2 to 1 margin.
The weapons makers have good reason to reward the Republican party for its role in boosting weapons spending — since the Republicans took the House in 1995, Congress has routinely added $5 to $10 billion per year to the Pentagon budget beyond what the Clinton Administration has requested in its annual budget submissions. As a result, the Pentagon budget will hit $310 billion next year, a Cold War level budget despite the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists and the so-called “rogue states” that the Pentagon worries about most — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and Cuba — taken together spend just one-eighteenth of what the United States spends on its military.
III. TRW and John Warner: Hail to the Chairman
Lockheed Martin isn’t the only weapons contractor looking to solidify its connections with key Republicans this week. TRW — which is facing charges of fraud for manipulating results of tests related to the National Missile Defense (NMD) program — is throwing a luncheon for Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner at the Philadelphia Union Club at noon on July 31st. Warner has been a key supporter of the NMD program. He led the Republican charge in defeating an amendment sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota that would have required the Pentagon to conduct realistic tests of the NMD system before making a deployment decision. At issue is the fact pointed out by Dr. Ted Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a joint study group of experts from MIT and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the American Physical Society (the nation’s largest professional organization of physicists) that the current NMD system has shown no capability to distinguish between a nuclear warhead and a simple decoy. TRW research scientist Dr. Nira Schwartz has filed a civil suit against the company charging that they forced her to cover up research results documenting that their NMD “kill vehicle” failed to tell a mock warhead from a decoy 80 to 85% of the time.
IV. Bush and Cheney: the Arms Industry’s ‘Dream Team’
George W. Bush has strong ties to Lockheed Martin from his service as Governor of Texas, where he tried to give the firm a contract to run the Texas welfare system before he had to relent in the face of public protests and an unfavorable regulatory ruling by the Clinton administration. Lockheed Martin VP Bruce Jackson is a finance chair of the Bush for President campaign, and was heard to brag at a conference last year that he would be in a position to “write the Republican platform” on defense if Bush gets the nomination (which he will, later this week). Dick Cheney, the man who presided over the U.S.-led victory over Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War, has spent the past few years running the oil services giant Halliburton, which ranked 18th on the Pentagon’s top contractors list in FY 1999. Cheney’s wife, Lynne, serves on Lockheed Martin’s board, a service for which she receives $120,000 in compensation. That’s small change for the Cheney family — Dick earned $26.7 million in wages, bonuses, and stock options last year — but it raises serious questions of conflict of interest when the potential “second lady” is on the payroll of the nation’s largest weapons maker.
V. The Bottom Line: Both Major Parties Have Been Bought Off
The answer to the weapons industry’s hold on the Republican party is NOT to turn to the Democrats. Under the leadership of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and the Democratic Leadership Council, the Democratic Party has been almost as pro-military as the Republicans, maintaining high military spending, throwing billions of dollars at missile defense, and reaping over $1.1 million in soft money from Bernard Schwartz of Loral Space and Communications in the most recent election cycle alone. The answer is to get special interest money out of politics by supporting full public financing of presidential and congressional races on the “clean money” model, where candidates can successfully run for office without taking any corporate contributions.