Michael U.S. Rep. David Davis, R-Tenn., is this election season’s leading congressional recipient of donations from a billion-dollar global defense contractor accused of bribing Saudi officials with call girls and money.
BAE System’s $11,000 worth of donations to Davis began trickling into his campaign fund after he requested $4.4 million in federal funding for the contractor. After cuts in the congressional appropriations process, the arms dealer landed $4 million.
The London-based defense company’s political contribution arm, USAPAC, is among the largest donors to Davis’ campaign.
Others receiving funds from the contractor are:
Democrats Sen. Edward Kennedy, with $1,000, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, with $5,000. More than 100 House and Senate members are listed as recipients of $429,800 from BAE Systems for the 2008 election cycle, campaign finance reports show.
Overall, the PAC’s largest donations went to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($30,000); the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($30,000); the National Republican Congressional Committee ($30,000); and the Republican National Council ($15,000). Next comes the David Davis Victory Fund.
According to Owens, Congressman Davis requested the earmarks for BAE Systems on March 16, 2007, nearly a week before the company submitted its first donation of the year to him, campaign finance reports show. The donation, for $1,000, was used to pay off a debt from his previous election campaign. The first donation to go into Davis’ current campaign fund came the next month, in April. It was for $5,000.
The bill sponsored by both Davis and Sen. Alexander was for improvements to the Kingsport plant’s thermobaric munitions and explosives factory. Davis sought $2 million for the upgrade, while Alexander sought $2.4 million. In the end, Alexander’s amount was fulfilled. A separate request by Davis alone sought $2.4 million for an acid recovery system. Congress approved $1.6 million.
Davis received his final donation from the defense giant in early November 2007, the same month Congress gave the earmarks a final approval. The donation was for $1,500.
Of course, when told of the allegations against BAE Systems, Davis said an investigation does not mean that the company is guilty of any wrongdoing. Likewise, he doesn’t know anything about the coincidental timing of BAE Systems’ contributions. Davis also told the Herald Courier he is comfortable accepting money from a defense firm, which manufactures arms the world over, as long as neither the company nor its customers defy American ideals.
Hmm, being investigated by British government AND the US Department of Justice, buying off congressmen, setting up slush funds and purchasing high-priced hookers for international clients… yep. that all that sounds American to me.
Davis also defended political contributions from big companies.
“It doesn’t mean it’s evil. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just a way for them to have a voice in the political process,” he said.
A voice? Whew. I am relieved we’re finally just coming right out an admitting you have to purchase your voice in politics these days. It’s so freeing to tell the truth, you know. Of course, this somewhat sucks for those poor shmucks with a company but no PAC. Since they are unable to purchase a lawmaker, they have to submit bids for government contracts like regular people…
Another noteworthy item: BAE Systems also sent $3,500 to Bob Corker’s campaign, who during a tour of the HAAP facility back in March, was asked by company officials how HAAP will be in a position to get continued federal funding if federal budget earmarks were set aside.
“Some of the things coming up here (at HAAP) are going to be very, very large-ticket items and more difficult to fund and yet essential to keep the facility productive,” Corker responded. “But earmarking is a gnat, and the big issues are entitlements (like Medicare and Social Security).”
Corker said BAE officials would “much prefer” that HAAP receive funding on a competitive, rather than political, basis.
“What earmarking does is take them out of a competitive basis and causes them to have to rely on influence to get things done,” Corker said. “An operation like this would much rather see a line item in the (federal) budget that focuses on munitions and lets them compete for that on merit.”