Boeing and other defense contractors bankrolled campaigns of election objectors

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In this image from video, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks as the Senate reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College Vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

WASHINGTON — Leading defense contractors were among the most generous corporate contributors to the campaigns of members of Congress who voted not to certify the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona or Pennsylvania, according to a report made public Monday by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The contributions from the defense companies’ political action committees flowed steadily in 2021 to the reelection campaigns of dozens of election objectors and to Republicans’ Senate and House campaign committees and leadership PACs, the report said, after some of those companies had halted such payments after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The rioters acted in response to an incendiary speech by President Donald Trump as lawmakers debated whether to turn away presidential electors from Arizona. After the riot, the House and Senate reconvened and rejected the GOP motion, 121-303 in the House and 6-93 in the Senate. Another pair of votes objecting to electors from Pennsylvania was rejected 138-282 in the House and 7-92 in the Senate. All of those in favor were Republicans.

Since then, the Boeing Co. has given $346,500 to GOP campaign committees or election objectors’ campaigns, more than any other company, the report said.

Separately, Boeing contributed to state attorneys general who have filed suits to overturn the 2020 elections in four battleground states, CREW found.

Other top-10 defense contractors’ PACs also made the list of leading direct or indirect contributors to Republicans who voted not to certify the 2020 results. They are:

• General Dynamics: $233,500

• Lockheed Martin Corp.: $205,000

• L3Harris Technologies Inc.: $173,000

• Northrop Grumman Corp.: $151,000

• Raytheon Co.: $150,500

Contribution freeze was short-lived

Of those, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon stand out because they froze donations for a while after Jan. 6.

At the time, Boeing issued a statement noting, in part: “We will continue to carefully evaluate future contributions to ensure that we support those who not only support our company, but also uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.”

Also last January, after Lockheed Martin froze its own political contributions after the Capitol riot, the company said in a statement that it “routinely evaluates and updates our political action committee contribution strategy to reflect our core values and the constantly changing political landscape and priorities.”

Since last January, however, donations to GOP members and campaign committees from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon “have exceeded half a million dollars, including donations to some of the most anti-democratic members,” the CREW report said.

On Monday, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said, “Our employee PAC program continues to observe long-standing principles of nonpartisan political engagement in support of our business interests.”

A Boeing spokesperson declined to comment on Monday about the CREW report. Raytheon did not reply by Monday evening to a request for comment.

GOP election objectors sit on key defense panels

Of course, defense contractors regularly give campaign contributions to members of the congressional committees that oversee defense spending.

In this Congress, those oversight panels include numerous Republicans who voted against certifying state election results.

In fact, the majority of GOP members of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense voted against certifying those results.

So did three Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee: Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida.

Defense contractors’ contributions formed just a subset of the findings in the CREW report. All told, the group said, 717 corporations and industry trade groups contributed $18 million to 143 of the 147 members who voted not to certify voters’ presidential pick in 2020, their leadership PACs or to GOP campaign committees.

On the other hand, the report said, half of the 250 companies that froze contributions after the Jan. 6 riots have continued to withhold them from those who sought to thwart congressional certification of the election results.

©2022 CQ-Roll Call Inc.