The President should issue the executive order immediately. And he
should go even further -- banning all political activity by companies
receiving more than half their revenues from the U.S. government.
Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest contractor, has already got
more than $19 billion in federal contracts so far this year. But we know
very little about Lockheed Martin's political spending other than its
Political Action Committee contributions. We don't know how much money
it gives to the Aerospace Industries Association to lobby for a bigger
We don't even know how much Lockheed is giving the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce to lobby against Obama's proposed executive order requiring
disclosure of its political activities.
Don't we have a right to know? After all, you and I and other
taxpayers are Lockheed's biggest customer. As such, we're financing some
of its lobbying and political activities.
Lockheed's lobbying and political activities are built into its cost
structure. So when Lockheed contracts with the federal government for a
piece of military equipment, you and I end up paying for a portion of
its political costs.
It's one of the most insidious conflicts of interest in American politics.
Now, in the wake of the grotesque Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, there's no limit on what Lockheed can spend on politics.
That's why the President should go the next step and ban Lockheed and
all other government contractors that get more than half their revenues
from government from engaging in any political activities at all.
Otherwise, you and I and other taxpayers indirectly pay for Lockheed
and Northrop Grumman to lobby for a larger military budget and support
politicians who will vote for it.
We indirectly pay for Blackwater to lobby for -- and support
politicians who will demand -- more use of contract workers in Iraq and
We indirectly pay for Raytheon and General Dynamics to lobby for, and
support politicians who will push for, more high-tech weapons systems.
And so on.
Disclosure is a start. But in this post-Citizens United world, it's only a beginning of what's needed.