The defense industry is known as a major lobbying power in Congress but the industry’s sharp uptick in campaign contributions, the majority of which are designated to Republicans, in the 2012 political cycle indicates that defense contractors are making a strong rightward shift in their political giving.
Defense industry contributions to individual candidates and PACs reached nearly $13 million earlier this month. That number, only $11 million short of the $24 million contributed in the 2008 political cycle, suggests that the defense industry will contribute more in this political cycle than in any previous election. And the increase in funds is matched by a dramatic partisan shift in the industry’s contributions.
In 2008, 51 percent of contributions went to Democrats while 49 percent were designated for Republicans. In 2010, that trend continued with 53 percent going to Democrats and 47 percent to Republicans. But the 2012 cycle appears to mark a shift in partisan bent as a whopping 60 percent of defense industry campaign dollars went to Republican campaigns.
When contacted by Politico, General Dynamic spokesman Kendell Pease explained that the Republican majority in Congress could explain the shift in campaign dollars toward the GOP:
Those are the folks that are here. Those are the folks that are making decisions now, today, and it’s very easy to figure out where they stand on issues that we feel are most important. We continue to support those folks, both House and Senate, who support those issues that we feel are most important.
Indeed, supporting Republicans has paid off. A budget proposal put forward by Mitt Romney would add $100 billion to the Pentagon’s budget by 2016, while imposing cuts on health care for the poor and disabled and reductions in funding for food inspection, border security and education. And a House Republican budget proposal calls for $554 billion in defense spending in 2013, a $29 billion increase over the White House’s proposal.
As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) has found himself the biggest recipient of defense industry dollars, taking in over $393,000 in the 2012 political cycle. The defense industry, apparently eager to repay McKeon for fearlessly defending the defense industry from budget cuts, has extended its largess to his wife, Patricia McKeon, who took in at least $19,200 in defense industry campaign contributions for her California State Assembly campaign (where national defense is not at issue). But McKeon denies the contributions were the result of arm twisting or repayment for his work in protecting the defense budget as budget cuts sweep across Washington. “She’s made lots of friends [in Washington],” McKeon told the Los Angeles Times. “When they found out she was running, they offered to help.”