A General Dynamics-produced system of electronic components

Defense Contractors Are Top Donors to House Election Objectors, Report Finds

in Sludge
on August 31, 2021

On January 6, nearly two-thirds of House Republicans—139 representatives in all—voted to sustain objections to the presidential election results from Arizona, Pennsylvania, or both. They joined eight Republican senators in seeking to toss out the Electoral College results, even though by mid-December over 50 legal challenges to the election had failed in court, largely due to lack of evidence. The number of failed legal challenges to Biden’s victory over Trump has grown to over 60 cases.

Since the beginning of the year, the House Republicans who objected to the election results have raked in over $3.8 million in contributions from over 250 PACs affiliated with Fortune 500 companies and trade groups, according to a new tracker from the watchdog group Accountable.us. 

Five of the top 13 Fortune 500 PAC donors this year to the campaigns of House election objectors are the PACs of military contractors, led by General Dynamics, at $109,500, with Lockheed Martin just behind at $108,000. The PACs of Boeing, L3Harris Technologies, and Raytheon have given a combined $241,000 to House GOP election objectors so far this cycle. With the exception of Boeing, the four companies are “pure-play” contractors that receive the vast majority of their revenue from contracts with the Department of Defense, authorized and appropriated by Congress. 

In 2019, the Global Party Survey, directed by political scientist Pippa Norris at Harvard and Sydney Universities, gathered data on the issue positions and populist rhetoric of political parties from 1,861 election experts worldwide. The results found that the Republican Party was closer to authoritarian parties in Turkey and Poland than conservative parties in other wealthy countries like Canada or Germany, making the GOP a stark outlier in its disregard for democratic principles. A previous review of the 2016 Republican platform by the research group Manifesto Project placed the GOP to the right of far-right parties in Britain and France.

In March, House Republicans voted unanimously against the For the People Act, the package of campaign finance, anti-gerrymandering, government ethics, and voting access reforms. Then in late June, only two House Republicans voted in favor of the creation of a House select committee to investigate the causes of the Jan. 6 riots, after an effort to create an evenly-split 10-member national commission failed to overcome a Senate filibuster. 

Including Northrop Grumman, the “Big Five” military contractors have given $268,500 to House Republicans who cast votes against all three measures, per Accountable’s report: certifying the Electoral College results, passing the For the People Act, and standing up a Jan. 6 select committee.

The top recipient in Accountable’s tracker of corporate PAC donations is Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee that authorizes defense funding levels annually. The second and third spots are taken by the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). Rounding out the top five are Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), also on the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the Agriculture Committee, followed by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), the ranking member of the Ag Committee. 

After the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol Building protesting Congress’ certification of the election, many corporations and trade associations temporarily paused their PAC contributions, either to Republican election objectors or to all political candidates.

In another count by Accountable, 16 of the largest 100 companies in the U.S. had contributed over half a million dollars as of Aug. 10 to the Republicans who cast the trifecta of votes undermining democracy, including General Motors and Chevron. These sums don’t incorporate donations to leadership PACs or joint fundraising committees. 

Some election objectors in Congress could soon be called to testify on what they knew about the planning and goals of the Jan. 6 protests. Recently, the House select committee said it would be requesting the phone records of members who were close allies of former President Trump, and select committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said last month that subpoena targets could include McCarthy and Trump.

Through gerrymandering of congressional districts in states including Florida and Georgia, House Republicans could pick up anywhere from six to 13 seats in the midterms, according to a recent analysis, more than enough to retake the majority.

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