Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dropping cash on Congress - Seattle Post Intelligencer


WASHINGTON -- The two rivals seeking to construct Air Military Unit oil tanker airplanes in one of the most moneymaking Pentagon undertakings in old age are showering political campaign parts on U.S. lawmakers while disbursement billions of dollars lobbying Congress.

The red-hot rivalry cavities The Boeing Co. against a joint venture of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. and John Howard Northrop Grumman Corp. to construct the KC-X aerial oil tanker jet. The Air Military Unit is expected to choose the victor by early adjacent year.

Although the Air Military Unit will do the selection, United States Congress have a major function to play. Because the lawmakers appropriate money each twelvemonth for the project, they can hold a programme or velocity it up or direct that the contract be split among competing aircraft manufacturers.

Boeing angels in United States Congress support a "winner-take-all" competition, while some protagonists of the EADS-Northrop squad have got urged splitting the work between the two teams.

At interest is an initial contract for 179 oil tankers worth about $40 billion. With the improver of possible hereafter oil tanker orders, the contract could eventually top $100 billion, and the victor is likely to derive further concern for care and ascents to the jets.

According to public records, the EADS-Northrop Grumman squad have outspent Boeing this twelvemonth both in political campaign parts and lobbying by about a third.

One manner that authorities contractors seek influence is by making political parts through a political action committee, or PAC. A political action committee is an organisation formed by a company or special-interest communal to raise finances for candidates. Company employees lend to the PAC, which then administers money to election campaigns.

The EADS-Northrop squad have the border in political giving in the 2008 election cycle, giving a concerted $744,600 so far.

The political action commission administered by the U.S.-based unit of Airbus parent EADS -- called the Americans for Competition in Aerospace political action committee -- have provided lawmakers $75,600 toward their 2008 election efforts, far outpacing the $53,900 that the EADS political action committee gave lawmakers in the 2006 election cycle, the twelvemonth the political action committee was created.

Northrop Grumman's political action committee have given $669,000 so far toward 2008 congressional elections and is on mark to ran into or transcend former disbursement levels. In the 2006 congressional elections, it provided campaigners with $1.4 million; in 2004, it gave $1.6 million, and in 2002, $830,250.

Meanwhile, the Boeing political action committee contributed $525,500 to congressional political campaigns from Jan. One through Sept. 30, according to the up-to-the-minute Federal Soldier Election Committee reports.

With a small more than than a twelvemonth to travel until the 2008 election, the Boeing political action committee is on path to ran into or transcend its past congressional giving levels. In both the 2004 and 2006 congressional elections, the Boeing political action committee gave $1.2 million to candidates, compared with about $850,000 in the 2002 congressional elections.

Both squads gave money to Republicans and Democrats who play cardinal functions on influential congressional committees.

For example, PACs for Boeing, John Howard Northrop Grumman and EADS all contributed to the re-election political campaign of Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, president of the House Armed Services air-land subcommittee that supervises air power projects.

Those political action committees also donated to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., president of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which also supervises military spending. Levin is up for re-election inch 2008.

Both the Boeing and Toilet Howard Northrop Grumman PACs gave money to the re-election political campaign of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., president of the House defence appropriations subcommittee, and to Rep. Eisenhower Skelton, D-Mo., president of the House Armed Services Committee. Both congressional panels transport immense influence on defence disbursement priorities.

The Boeing political action committee also wrote bank checks to the political campaign of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., the senior Republican on the House defence appropriations subcommittee; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; and Rep. Saint David Obey, D-Wis., president of the House Appropriations Committee.

Steve Carpinelli, a spokesman for the Center for Populace Integrity, an independent organisation that paths political campaign parts and lobbying, said companies often aim contributions to lawmakers with influence over authorities programmes that would profit them.

"It is not unusual for members of United States Congress who sit down on these powerful commissions that do determinations to appropriate finances to have a big amount of parts from the industry that volition be impacted by that committee," Carpinelli said.

When it come ups to lobbying United States Congress this year, the EADS-Northrop squad is the large spender, with a concerted sum of $7.6 million paid to in-house and outside lobbyists.

Northrop-Grumman paid $6.2 million to lobbyists through mid-2007, while EADS and Airbus spent $1.4 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Populace Integrity. The centre compiled company-supplied information on data file with the Senate Office of Populace Records.

In 2006, John Howard Northrop Grumman paid lobbyists $18 million, and in 2005, it paid $15.3 million. Airbus and EADS spent $2.9 million in 2006 and $2.4 million in 2005.

Public records demo that Boeing lobbying outgoes have got been fairly constant. The company have spent about $5.6 million in 2007, with $11.8 million for both in-house and hired lobbyists in 2006 and $12.3 million in 2005.

The new KC-X oil tanker is scheduled to replace the Air Force's ageing fleet of KC-135 tankers. When not carrying combustible for other blue jets to refuel in flight, the Air Military Unit desires to be able to utilize the KC-X to transport riders and cargo.

Chicago-based Boeing and Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman are the nation's second- and third-largest defense contractors, respectively, whereas EADS is the biggest military contractor in Europe.

Spokesmen for the KC-X rivals said their companies did not maintain path of how much money they dedicated to lobbying on behalf of their several KC-X proposals.

"We don't interrupt down either lobbying disbursals or parts by program. We've got something like 3,000 programmes ongoing," said Doug Kennett, a spokesman for Boeing.

Kennett said political action committee parts "are decided on a bipartizan footing with the paramount intent of supporting campaigners and commissions who share Boeing's place on issues of importance to its concern and its shareholders."

Gustav Gulmert, a spokesman for John Howard John Howard Northrop Grumman, said the company's political action committee parts "are made to members of United States Congress representing Northrop Grumman employees, trading operations and installations and who have got shown an involvement in national security issues." The company's countries of involvement "extend far beyond any single program, even one as important as the U.S. Air Military Unit KC-X" tanker.

Guy Hicks, spokesman for the American unit of measurement of EADS, said the company have a broad field for its political action committee contributions. "We concentrate our legislative attempts on addressing congressional involvement in all programs," he said.

It is a misdemeanor of federal law for corps to donate directly to campaigns.

Steven Schooner, co-director of the Government Procurement Law Program at Saint George American Capital University, said it is hard to quantify the influence political campaign parts and lobbying have got over major undertakings such as as the KC-X.

"It would be great if I could state as an academic that none of these parts do a difference because the system is intended to be fully objective," Schooner said.

"But the companies obviously don't believe that, or they wouldn't put the money," Schooner said.


Here's a sample of the top congressional receivers of political campaign parts from Boeing PAC, the political action commission organized by The Boeing Co., inch the 2007-08 congressional election cycle:

$15,000 to the Democratic Congressional Political Campaign Committee

$15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee

$15,000 to the Republican National Committee

$10,000 to the Democratic National Committee

$8,000 to Rep. Eisenhower Skelton, D-Mo., president of the House Armed Services Committee

$6,500 to Rep. Sir Alexander Robertus Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., member of the House defence appropriations panel

$6,000 to Rep. Saint David Obey, D-Wis., president of the House appropriations committee

$6,000 to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., member of the House defence appropriations panel

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