Friday, November 02, 2012

Buck McKeon And Northrup Grumman's Global Hawk Drone Boondaggle


The biggest source of funds for Buck McKeon are payments from Arms manufacturers and war contractors. This year alone he's taken in over half a million dollars from war related industries-- more than any TWO other Members of Congress! He was even able to coerce-- which is illegal-- the companies with business in front of the House Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, to "contribute" large sums money to his wife's fake campaign for the California state Assembly.

His biggest donors are almost all arms manufacturers seeking to bribe him to sign onto their corporate agendas-- which he invariably does. If the Pentagon planners and the generals say no, but the check-writing corporations and lobbyists say they want to sell the government more weapons systems, McKeon is always pushing for more weapons systems. Here's a chart of his Top 20 contributors:

The single biggest source has from the Northrup Grumman PAC. And they had a very specific reason to open up their wallets to the corrupt McKeon this year. The Pentagon decided to stop purchasing ridiculously over-priced Grumman's Global Hawk Drones. (Each drone costs the taxpayers $35 million-- unless you add in the "development costs" (which includes bribes to Members of Congress like McKeon) and then the price the Pentagon has to pay per unit is $218 million!) Cost overruns were so outrageous-- even by arms manufacturers' standards-- that the Pentagon just put its foot down. But McKeon, founder and chairman of the House Unmanned Vehicle Caucus (AKA- the Drone Caucus), who takes the lion's share of bribes from the drone manufacturers, moved into action to save the program for his campaign contributors. When the Pentagon decided to cut back from 22 vehicles to 11, McKeon went ballistic even though the U.S. Defense Department's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation testified that the drones are "not operationally effective" for its mission. Last January the Pentagon announced plans to end Global Hawk Block 30 procurement because they are both too expensive and too ineffective. McKeon insisted the Pentagon make up for it by increasing orders for Grumman's Global Hawk Block 40 variants instead. The drones completely missed Hurricane Sandy, the biggest storm in American history, which NASA had deployed two of them to track.

Grumman's good luck with McKeon goes beyond just the thinly veiled bribes they give him. Investigative reporter Lee Fang blew the whistle on McKeon's role in the Grumman revolving door scheme.
Northrop Grumman, the fourth largest weapons maker in the world, follows the actions of Congress very closely. The F-35, which may cost over $1.45 trillion because of unprecedented cost overruns, an expensive surveillance drone program criticized as unnecessary, and even a new fleet of nuclear bombers are among the Northrop Grumman products that may be in jeopardy as the Pentagon is forced to trim fat from the military budget. But luckily for Northrop Grumman, which made $2.12 billion in profits last year, the firm essentially has a man on the inside of Congress with wide sway over how the government spends money on national defense.

In 2011, after Republicans seized the House of Representatives in a landslide victory, the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the military, gained a new chairman, Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA). As with most leadership changes, McKeon and his committee hired new professional staff. Thomas MacKenzie, a vice president at Northrop Grumman, was tapped to work for the committee beginning in March of 2011.

There are many examples of lobbyists burrowing into government to work in policy areas that impact their former employers. These lobbyists, as Public Citizen’s Craig Holman, an expert on lobbying, has explained, seem happy to accept low-paid public service salaries, perhaps because they can expect extremely high pay once they return to K Street.

In MacKenzie’s case, Northrop Grumman made sure he had extra cash before he went to work writing policy on the defense budget. Republic Report viewed a recently filed an ethics disclosure form, and found that Northrop Grumman paid MacKenzie a $498,334 bonus in 2011, just before he went to work under McKeon as a committee staffer. The bonus was almost the size of MacKenzie’s annual salary at the firm, which was $529,379 in 2010.

...McKeon, by far the biggest recipient of Northrop Grumman campaign contributions in Congress, has defended billions of dollars in questionable projects for MacKenzie’s former employer. McKeon has fought to cancel the retirement of the Northrop’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, a drone the Pentagon could save $2.5 billion by cutting. He’s pressed to secure funding for a range of different aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman, from a new nuclear-capable long-range bomber to the F-35, which is slated to be the most expensive weapon developed in human history. Earlier this year, McKeon visited a Northrop plant and rallied employees to help him stave off nearly $500 billion in sequestration cuts to the defense budget as part of the deficit-reduction deal.
It's one of the reasons-- one of the many reasons-- Blue America is backing Lee Rogers Tuesday in his bid to replace McKeon in Congress. In July the nonpartisan Public Campaign exposed McKeon's hypocrisy over his vote in favor of sequestration-- and the subsequent acrobatics ever since.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) held a hearing on Wednesday to give defense contractors a chance to air their grievances about the sequester, an automatic spending cut that would hit defense and domestic programs unless Congress takes action to reduce the deficit.

The heads of Lockheed Martin, EADS North America, Pratt & Whitney, and Williams-Pyro-- defense contractors that McKeon called “our industry partners”-- each got a chance to take the witness stand and speak about the uncertainty the possible sequester has injected into their business.

What they didn’t mention in their testimony is the amount of money their company’s PACs and employees pour into McKeon and the committee’s campaign coffers, according to a Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

• Lockheed Martin is McKeon’s top career campaign contributor, having given $186,600. The lion’s share of that amount came after it became clear that McKeon would become committee chair in 2011. CEO Robert Stevens, who testified on Wednesday, even personally gave $4,000.
• McKeon has brought in $11,500 from EADS-- more than half of it after becoming chairman-- as well as $17,500 from Pratt & Whitney’s parent company, United Technologies Corporation.
• Overall, McKeon has received $1,228,700 from defense interests during his time in Washington-- one of the biggest recipients of their largesse. For 2012, he has already received $441,850.
• So far this election cycle, members of the House Armed Services Committee have raked in an eye-opening $3,774,896 from the same defense sector they are supposed to oversee-- roughly what they received in the entire 2010 cycle.
The 30,000 drones flying over American skies will go down as Buck McKeon's biggest career accomplishment. Watch what Fox News had to say about what McKeon was bribed to reward the drone makers with. In his own district, the Republican-owned, libertarian-leaning Antelope Valley Political Observer just endorsed their first Democrat ever, Lee Rogers. "Our decision," they wrote, "is based on Rogers’ position on the big issues-- War in Afghanistan, Civil Liberty, NDAA, and his commitment to voting principle and the best interest of the district over voting by instruction as given by the leadership of his political party. McKeon’s record on these issues is dismal. A representative whose voting history includes supporting TARP because party leadership told him to, NDAA-- indefinite detention of U.S. citizens-- and a continuation of the war in Afghanistan especially, is enough for the Political Observer to recommend readers vote for his opponent, Rogers for Congress... As Rogers told the Political Observer, 'I’m in favor of bringing the troops home form Afghanistan yesterday.' As for McKeon, it appears he never met a war, overseas military adventure, or weapons system he didn’t like."

One of the other big newspapers in the district, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal gave McKeon a half-hearted, grudging endorsement and suggested he consider retiring already. The Signal polled its own readers and found they overwhelmingly disagree with the endorsement, think McKeon should be retired now and back Lee Rogers for Congress.

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At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I intend to vote no on these eduction taxes. Their salaries never should have skyrocketted in the 2000s.
A temporary fix isn't sufficient. We need a long term fix.
They claim accrediation is necessary. K-12 isn't rocket science. Just like the private sector:::You want the high pay take your advanced education degree to a university.
There are enough graduates without direction we should offer them a chance to work off their student debt with a pre-determined number of years working as a teacher, for the new lower wage pay structure.

"We intend to bankrupt it." And then what? Only white kids? In this enviornment??
"(force another look at immigration.)" This isn't the 80s. That's all over.
Unless we become 3rd world this is the system, and this is the only way the system will continue to be functional. But in the meantime stop all illegals sneaking into the United States from China through the Ports of Los Angeles and Oakland in those container ships.
They sent that clue many years ago, and people didn't respond apporpriately. As a result it's been continuing incessantly since.
Whites belong here because the god's intent for the United States originally was punishment for white people. Blacks and recent immigrants (80s) can attest to this as they we made to feel very unwelcome, in their heads by the gods and otherwise. Had they responded properly to the god's clue they may have returned home to their countries of origin.
But, like the Jews in Isreal, they have been corrupted by money, and this association with the Evil Empire will ultimately lead them to Damnation with their "friends".

We have seen the gods use efficiency "experts" in context of their positioning in relation to me. They were utilized anywhere I have spent any significant time.
Recall I was interviewed at the Department of Education. Now it is obvious rejection was deliberate, because all this mess in public schools would have been fixed had I been allowed to work at this facility, and we may not had the need to vote on Propositions 30 and 38 next Tuesday.
Their so-called "experts" are clone host fakes, fresh out of high school who woudln't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Without the gods doing their jobs through them they'd only be good for playing with themselves.
Any other state it may have been possible. In California it was not.
Education consumes far too much of the public's resourses to allow continued financial abuse/inefficiency. These issues should have been addressed by now.


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