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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Backyard Political Corruption: Senators who backed Syria resolution got 83 per cent more defense lobby money

Chart from Zero Hedge

PUBLISHED: 14:38 EST, 5 September 2013 

Wednesday's 10-7 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee supporting an authorization of military attacks on Syria may have been affected by varying levels of financial support the senators got from political action committees representing the defense industry, and from the companies' employees.
On average, a 'yes'-voting senator received 83 per cent more money from defense contractors than one who voted 'no.'

The resolution in its current form would endorse Obama administration-led strikes against Syria for up to 90 days, following revelations that the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad used a nerve gas weapon against civilians as part of a brutal civil war.

The resolution would not authorize the deployment of ground forces, but MailOnline reported Wednesday that the Pentagon has already estimated the need for 75,000 troops to secure Syria's vast supplies of chemical weapons and the factories that produce them.
A single Tomahawk cruise missile can cost up to $1.4 million, making even a limited series of strikes on Syrian targets an expensive proposition. Defense contractors and their lobbyists use campaign cash to persuade lawmakers to spend more and more
Sabers rattle: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and ranking Republican Bob Corker, two 'yes' votes, received a combined $130,850 from defense contractors
The big kahuna: Republican John McCain received
more defense lobby cash than any other senator who
cast a vote Wednesday on Syria: $176,300. He is one
of three committee Republicans to support President
Obama, saying it would be 'catastrophic' if Congress
doesn't go along

The small fry: Democratic Sen Tom Udall voted to deny
Obama the approval he wants for a Syrian bombing
campaign. That may have had something to do with the
fact that his campaigns received only $18,700 from
defense contractors and their political action
committees over a five-year period

Committee members who voted Wednesday to support the proposal collected an average of $72,850 in defense campaign financing between 2007 and 2012, Wired magazine reported, based on data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Those who dissented in the committee vote averaged $39,770. The Center's data include more than $1 million in political donations to the 17 senators who cast up-or-down votes on the measure.

The phenomenon crossed party lines. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, one of three Republicans to vote in the affirmative, collected the largest amount – $176,300 – for his campaigns. The next largest numbers belonged to Democrats, including $127,350 given to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and $101,025 given to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

All three voted yes.

    The four senators who received the least amount of defense dollars, ranging from $14,000 to $19,250, all voted no. They included three Republicans and one Democrat.

    The Democratic party holds 10 of the 18 seats on the powerful foreign relations committee. The 18th member, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, voted 'present,' abstaining from a decision until, he said, he could examine more classified intelligence information and consult with experts.
    Skydiving into Aleppo? Aircraft, parachutes, uniforms and small arms come to the military by way of contractors who are greasing senators' campaign palms

    Voting their consciences? GOP Sens. John Barasso of Wyoming (L) and Marco Rubio of Florida (R) voted against military action in Syria, despite collecting nearly $150,000 between them from the defense lobby
    $4 million and no cockpit: Predator drones can deliver a lethal punch but each one costs more than a Manhattan townhouse -- and missiles are extra

    Among the biggest contributors to senators involved in yesterday's vote were Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies and Honeywell International, companies that make everything from stealth bombers to long-range missiles and aerial drones.

    While members of Congress have complained that Pentagon budget cuts due to the 2013 budget sequester will hamper any military effort in the Middle East, those giant contractors will likely benefit from any military action.

    A single Tomahawk cruise missile costs the government between $700,000 and $1.4 million, according to published estimates. And each unmanned Predator aerial drone sets the Defense Department back a whopping $4 million.

    In 2012 A Pentagon spokesman told CNN that it costs another $815,000 per year to pay, deploy, feed, house, arm and maintain every soldier on the ground in Afghanistan.

    Applying that math to the 75,000 troops the Pentagon has said it will need to secure Syrian chemical weapons sites, a two-month deployment at similar costs would cost $5.09 billion per month.

    Secretary of State John Kerry told a House of Representatives committee on Wednesday that countries in the Arab world have offered to pay the cost of removing Assad from power in a full-blown military offensive, but the Obama administration has said its objectives would be limited to ensuring the Syrian government can no longer access or use chemical weapons.


    The Center for Responsive Politics tracks financial donations to political candidates from individuals, companies and political committees. Its data show that over a 5-year period, most of the $1,006,887 that flowed from the defense lobby to senators who weighed in on Wednesdays war powers resolution went to those who cast 'yes' votes.

    On average, those 'yes' votes came after $72,850 in defense-contractor campaign dollars, while a 'no' vote followed just $39,270.

    Here's how it stacked up.

    $176,300 – John McCain (R-AZ)
    $127,350 – Dick Durbin (D-IL)
    $101,025 – Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    $80,550 – Ben Cardin (D-MD)
    $70,850 – Bob Corker (R-TN)
    $60,000 – Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
    $41,872 – Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    $26,900 – Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
    $24,150 – Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
    $19,500 – Chris Coons (D-DE)

    $86,500 – John Barrasso (R-WY)
    $62,790 – Marco Rubio (R-FL)
    $59,250 – Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    $19,250 – Ron Johnson (R-WI)
    $18,700 – Tom Udall (D-NM)
    $17,900 – Rand Paul (R-KY)
    $14,000 – Jim Risch (R-ID)

    SOURCE: DailyMail