Although the defense sector contributes far less money to politicians than many other sectors, it is one of the most powerful in politics.The sector includes defense aerospace, defense electronics and other miscellaneous defense companies.
Individuals and political action committees associated with the defense sector contributed more than $27 million to political candidates and committees during the 2012 campaign cycle, with far more going to Republicans than Democrats: $16.4 million versus $11 million.
Since 1990, the sector has contributed a total of nearly $200 million, with 57 percent going to Republican candidates.
The sector also has a formidable federal lobbying presence, having spent $132 million in 2012 – though that’s down from a high of $150.8 million in 2008. In 2012, more than 900 lobbyists represented nearly 266 clients.
The main issue for the defense sector is securing government defense contracts and earmarks and influencing the defense budget to make those contracts more likely. Sector favorites include House and Senate members who sit on the armed forces and appropriations committees that oversee military and defense spending.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2013, has received more than $1.4 million from the defense sector since he first ran for the House in 1992, including $567,000 during the 2012 campaign cycle.
In contrast, the Michigan Democrat who runs the Senate Armed Services panel, Sen. Carl Levin, is viewed as far less friendly to the sector. He’s received just $495,000 from defense since his first Senate campaign in 1978.
– Viveca Novak
Updated August 2013