Few industries demonstrate the potential payoff of influence spending more than defense contractors.
Last year, Lockheed Martin spent $15.2 million on lobbying in Washington.
Among industry contributors to political campaigns, it ranked first. According to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, the company has contributed almost $1.5 million in 2011-2012.
Not surprisingly, Lockheed does quite well in President Obama’s proposed budget for 2013. Despite spending cuts, the administration set a goal of 2,443 F-35 fighters in a program budgeted at nearly $9.2 billion.
As AllGov points out, Lockheed will soon be the only U.S. manufacturer of the fighters.
Other programs in the $525 billion defense budget plan will also benefit Lockheed. It is a prime contractor for airlift aircraft, ballistic missiles, communications satellites, the Navy’s Littoral combat ships and other projects.
As Loren B. Thompson of the Lexington Institute blogs, the 2012 budget package puts the company in position to be “the dominant global military supplier for a generation to come.”
Thompson argues that this isn’t because Lockheed wields undue influence over government, but because it is a well-run operation.
But obviously, if the company didn’t believe that lobbying and campaign donations helped to land military contracts, it wouldn’t be spending those millions. Lockheed’s lobby tab in 2011 was up 19 percent from 2010.
The company employed 28 outside lobby firms last year:
- Ab Management Associates
- Capital Concepts
- Carliner Strategies LLC
- Clark & Weinstock
- Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc.
- Ervin Technical Associates, Inc.
- Etherton and Associates, Inc.
- LHD & Associates, Inc.
- ML Strategies, LLC
- Monument Strategies, LLC
- Mr. David Leach
- Mr. James Desmond
- Mr. Mark Rey
- Mr. Marshall Brachman
- Mr. Ralph Scott Lilly
- Park Strategies Washington Group, LLC
- Podesta Group, Inc.
- Principled Strategies, LLC
- Public Strategies Washington, Inc.
- Rose, Peter J.
- Sonny Callahan and Associates
- Squire Sanders Public Advocacy, LLC
- The Cohen Group
- The Glover Park Group LLC
- The National Group LLP
- The Walter Group
- Van Scoyoc Associates
- Venable LLP
Lockheed terminated its contracts last year with four of those firms: Clark & Weinstock; Ralph Scott Lilly; Principled Strategies; and Squire Sanders Public Advocacy.
The company lost one of its major lobbyists in 2010, when William Inglee left his position as vice president to become staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. Before joining Lockheed, Inglee had worked as an aide to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).
The highest-profile example of the revolving door at Lockheed is Norman Mineta, the former congressman who served as secretary of Commerce and Transportation. Mineta was a vice president at Lockheed from 1996 to 2000.
Other examples of company ties to government and the military:
- Gregory Dahlberg – Current VP for legislative affairs at Lockheed. Former under secretary of the Army
- Carrie Desmond – Current lobbyist. Former legislative assistant to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Melvin Dubee – Current lobbyist. Former deputy staff directorf of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee
- Scott Gudes – Current lobbyist. Former minority staff director of the Senate Budget Committee
- Robert Head – Current lobbyist. Former chief of staff to Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
- Gregory Walters – Current lobbyist. Former aide to the House Subcommittee on Defense
- Lisa A. Whisler – Current lobbyist. Former senior policy adviser to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
The company’s reliance on government connections is also evidenced by its board. Edward C. Aldridge Jr., former under secretary of Defense and the Air Force, was a director until April 2011.
James O. Ellis Jr., former commander of the United States Strategic Command, is a member of the board, as are James M. Loy, former deputy secretary of homeland security; and Joseph W. Ralston, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.