Cronyism: Senators supportive of Syria strikes bring in big bucks from defense contractors

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted last week to authorize military force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have brought thousands of dollars more from defense contractors than those who voted against it, according to a report from David Kravets of Wired:

Senators voting Wednesday to authorize a Syria strike received, on average, 83 percent more campaign financing from defense contractors than lawmakers voting against war.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $1,006,887 to the 17 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted yes or no on the authorization Wednesday, according to an analysis by Maplight, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that performed the inquiry at WIRED’s request.

Committee members who voted to authorize what the resolution called a “limited” strike averaged $72,850 in defense campaign financing from the pot. Committee members who voted against the resolution averaged $39,770, according to the data.

There was a similar dynamic at play during the debate over Rep. Justin Amash’s unsuccessful amendment to limit the National Security Agency’s surveillance to only those who are suspected of terrorist activist, rather than broadly targeting all Americans. Kravets noted at the time that lawmakers who voted against the Amash amendment received twice as much from defense contractors, who spent heavily on lobbying efforts against the measure, as those who supported it.

Similarly, members of Congress who spoke the loudest against the sequester, which cut the anticipated in increase in defense spending by $600 billion over the next 10 years, have been very cozy with the defense industry.

But back to the Syria issue. Kravets compiled the list of members and the contributions they’ve received from the defense industry since 2007, which you can see below (click to enlarge):

Senators receive 83% more cash from defense contractors

Even talk of war is good for business. Raytheon, the contractor that produces the Tomahawk missile, saw its stocks surge to a record high at the end of last month, though it has since fallen as congressional authorization of force against Syria looks unlikely.

But there it is, folks, cronyism in Washington at its worst.


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