As lawmakers in Congress debated billions of dollars’ worth of aid to Ukraine, including military aid, major defense contractor Lockheed Martin was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations, new disclosures show.
As reported by Insider, Lockheed Martin’s PAC spent $256,000 in April on donations to members of Congress, a gubernatorial campaign and PACs of both major parties. The company made 147 donations in total to the campaigns of federal lawmakers, including donations to five members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and 27 members of the House Armed Services Committee, both of which oversee military and defense spending.
Members of those committees who got donations from the company include conservative Democratic Senators Mark Kelly (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia). House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) also received a donation from the PAC. Congress discussed over 10 different bills related to Ukraine aid in April.
According to Insider, the donations and the number of lawmakers represent an unusually large amount of political spending for the company over the past few years. This indicates that Lockheed Martin’s PAC specifically timed the donations in order to coincide with negotiations on aid to Ukraine.
Last month, lawmakers were discussing a bill that would provide Ukraine about $40 billion in aid. The bill, passed by Congress last week, provides $6 billion for Ukrainian military forces, nearly $4 billion to U.S. forces in the region, and $8.7 billion to the Pentagon to replace weapons that it has given Ukraine. About $1.1 billion goes toward weapons production in the U.S.
Those weapons include Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon in a joint $309 million contract with the U.S. government — meaning that, even in just one contract, Lockheed Martin’s hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations has paid off handsomely.
It’s unclear how much Lockheed Martin will get from the spending, though experts say that more than half of foreign military spending typically goes toward defense contractors. These contractors have a strong grip on lawmakers; earlier this month, President Joe Biden visited a Lockheed Martin Javelin manufacturing facility in a display of the strong relationship between the company and federal lawmakers.
Lockheed Martin is the top defense contractor for the U.S., receiving tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Defense and appropriations bills each year, which helps pad their profits. The company is also a top contributor to lawmakers like Smith, who in turn vote against cuts to defense spending.