Pentagon contractors flock to Mrs. McKeon

Why are defense lobbyists funding the pet crusade of the wife of Buck McKeon, House Armed Services Committee chair?

Topics: Campaign Finance, Pentagon,

Pentagon contractors flock to Mrs. McKeon Howard "Buck" McKeon: Help my wife. Please! (Credit: AP/Susan Walsh)

Patricia McKeon, wife of a powerful committee chairman in Congress, announced her bid for California Legislature last fall by telling local Republicans that she decided to run for office because she’s fed up with the plastic bag tax in Los Angeles County. “Just think how much food we could buy if we weren’t forced to pay 10 cents for grocery bags,” she said in announcing her campaign. Within days of her official announcement, one industry stepped up to finance her campaign — but it wasn’t the plastic bag industry. It was military defense contractors and their Beltway lobbyists.

Disclosures posted last evening at the California secretary of state’s website confirm that a flood of military contractor money has flowed to Patricia McKeon, who is running for an open Assembly seat in a district that overlaps that of her husband, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

As Salon first reported this week, defense lobbyists are scrambling to mitigate looming defense budget cuts and appear to be donating to Patricia McKeon because of her husband’s powerful position overseeing  the Pentagon budget.

In her first few months of fundraising, Patricia McKeon collected at least $19,200 from defense contractors or their registered lobbyists. Her husband of 49 years is already the top recipient of military industry cash in Congress, so some of the contributions to his wife appear to be an attempt to get around federal campaign contribution limits.

Lockheed Martin, a company locked in a pitched battle to stave off cuts to the lucrative F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, cut Patricia McKeon’s campaign a $3,000 check.



Rep. Buck McKeon has rigorously defended the jets, despite growing concerns that the planes will run almost $90 million over budget each.

The lobbying firm Beau Butler LLC gave to Patricia McKeon as well. Beau Butler lobbies for Proxy Aviations, a drone company. Although it’s not clear why a drone maker would rally to Patricia McKeon’s call to end plastic bag taxes, the industry is an important cause for Buck McKeon. He’s co-chairman of a caucus dedicated to promoting drones for both military and civilian purposes.

Other Buck McKeon-related lobbies also donated to Patricia McKeon’s campaign coffer. Bruce Leftwich, a government affairs executive with a group associated with for-profit colleges, gave $500. In his previous committee chairmanship, at the helm of a subcommittee dealing with post-secondary education during the Bush years, McKeon helped for-profit colleges with a rule that extended billions in taxpayer money.

Lee Fang is an investigative journalist in the Bay Area.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>