WASHINGTON – Defense companies and their employees have donated a total of $602,200 to members of Maryland’s overwhelmingly-Democratic congressional delegation during the 2014 election cycle, which runs through November’s midterm elections, according to the most recent figures available from the Center for Responsive Politics.
These companies gave more than $913,000 to Maryland lawmakers during the 2012 election cycle.
Defense companies tend to give more to Maryland’s congressional delegation than to those from other states. So far, in the 2014 election cycle, Maryland senators have received an average of $184,000 — versus the national average of $26,969. Members of the House have received an average of $29,275 — versus the national average of $20,816.
The defense industry contributes generously to the state’s congressional delegation because Maryland is a leading recipient of federal defense contracts and houses more than a dozen defense contractors with operations in the state. It also shares a border with Washington and is home to more than 64,000 Defense Department employees and active military personnel.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, and the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has received $113,400 in contributions, making him the second highest grossing recipient of defense dollars from Maryland’s congressional delegation so far in this election cycle. He is the sixth highest grossing recipient in the entire House of Representatives.
“This is to be expected considering the size of the industry in our state,” said Ruppersberger spokeswoman Jaime Lennon. “Maryland, and our district in particular (2nd district), is home to many government contractors due to our proximity to Washington and major agencies like the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski has received $291,900 in campaign contributions this election cycle – more than 10 times the national average for a senator – making her the highest grossing recipient from Maryland and the 11th highest in the entire Senate.
Neither she nor Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin are up for reelection this year.
Companies specializing in aerospace defense, cybersecurity and miscellaneous defense have given more than $12 million in total campaign contributions so far this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Almost 60 percent of that has benefited Republicans.
Aerospace, defense and cybersecurity giant Lockheed Martin is the state’s top defense contractor, having earned more than $700 million in contracts this year, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
The company is headquartered in Bethesda and its political action committee and individual employees combined have contributed at least $10,000 to Ruppersberger and Mikulski each this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Lockheed Martin is also the top contributor to congressional campaigns in the entire defense industry, followed closely by competitors Northrop Grumman and Boeing. Its political action committee, the Lockheed Martin Employees’ Political Action Committee or LMEPAC, gave more than $3 million to congressional candidates last election cycle.
“The LMEPAC is funded exclusively through voluntary contributions from eligible employees and directors,” said Gordon Johndroe, vice president of Lockheed Martin Worldwide Media Relations. “The LMEPAC supports federal and state political candidates who support national defense and other business issues of interest to the corporation.”
A Defense State
Maryland has a disproportionately large bite of the Department of Defense budget, making its members of Congress attractive targets for defense companies’ contributions.
In 2013, Maryland was awarded more than $11 billion in defense contracts, making it the fourth largest recipient of federal defense contracts in the country, behind California, Virginia and Texas, respectively. The state has been awarded more than $2.6 billion in contracts so far in 2014, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Last year, 3.77 percent of federal defense contract money went to Maryland. The state is on a similar track this year.
According to Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development, the Defense Department spends $3,235 per Maryland resident, making the state the fifth highest ranking in per capita defense expenditures.
This money is awarded to companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and others to help fund research and development, pay civilian employees’ salaries, manufacture weaponry and defense systems and maintain Maryland’s network of military bases and facilities.
“Lawmakers from both Maryland and Virginia have a lot of constituents who either work for the military directly or for defense contractors,” said Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics. “It makes sense that they have a strong interest in defense spending.”
According to the most recent Census data available, the state houses and employs nearly 30,000 active military personnel and more than 34,000 civilian employees. It has the fifth highest concentration of Defense Department employees in the country.
“Maryland’s aerospace and defense industry includes 12 major military installations, 16 of America’s top 25 aerospace companies and 70 of the top 100 defense contractors,” according to the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development.
These military installations include Fort Meade and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
“Historically, the pattern is that the defense industry is going to be much more concerned with government because that’s where the business comes from,” said Doug Weber, senior researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics. “Another factor is that a lot of individuals who lobby for defense contractors in the government live in the D.C. area.”
Defense Industry Spending
The defense industry contributes less money to congressional elections annually than other interest groups like the financial sector, labor and even transportation.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, total defense industry expenditures for the 2014 election cycle so far are about $12 million, as opposed to the financial, insurance and real estate industry, which has spent more than $148 million in the same time period.
During presidential election years, this gap widens significantly. In the 2012 election cycle, the finance industry gave more than $669.8 million to federal candidates, versus the defense industry’s comparatively small $27.6 million in contributions.
But defense programs gobbled up 19 percent of the federal budget last year – more than any other programs except healthcare and Social Security, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“As an industry, defense doesn’t rank nearly as highly in campaign giving as, for instance, finance – which is perennially No. 1,” said Novak.
“That’s partly because defense isn’t as large an industry, but also these military contractors may be somewhat inoculated from the pressure to contribute by the fact that defense spending, in the minds of some, is about protecting our nation, and proposals for cuts thus become very controversial,” she said.
Campaign money can come from individuals, whose contributions are limited to $2,600 per federal candidate per election, or PACs – organizations representing business, labor or ideological interests that raise money to elect or defeat certain candidates.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 85 percent of all campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties and outside groups nationwide have come from PACs this election cycle. In 2012, it was 65 percent.
Lockheed Martin’s LMEPAC was the highest contributing defense sector PAC in the country last election cycle, giving more than $2.2 million.
This election cycle, Mikulski is the leading beneficiary of defense PACs’ contributions to Maryland’s congressional delegation, having earned $201,400 throughout the course of her term.
Ruppersberger’s seat on the House Intelligence Committee makes him a key player in decisions regarding the Intelligence Community, whose agencies include the NSA, CIA and FBI. He has received more than $106,000 from defense PACs during this election cycle, which is more than three times the average for a Maryland member.
“While we are proud to have the support of the business community and major employers in our district, political contributions have never and will never influence policy,” said Lennon.
The majority of campaign contributions in the defense industry tend to come from PACs, but individuals at companies also have the option of contributing personally to the campaign or candidate of their choice.
This election cycle, 15 percent of all defense sector contributions have come from individuals, for a total of more than $1.7 million. Maryland’s Congressional delegation has received $125,200 of these individual contributions, more than $90,000 of which has gone to Mikulski’s reelection campaign.