How We Doing? Contractors and Their Lobbyists

February 5, 2010 • Commentary
This article appeared in the Huffington Post on February 5, 2010.

Private military and security contractors have long had their supporters, including various trade organizations, advocate their benefits. Supposedly the various private military and security contractors can let their actions speak for themselves. When I write this I am not being sarcastic. Most of them do provide valuable and critical services and fulfill the terms of their contracts under very difficult conditions.

But that is not to say that they don’t do what every other industry angling for a piece of the federal budget does, meaning they lobby.

And while their expenditures may be dwarfed by their traditional, military industrial, weapons manufacturing behemoth brethren, their giving is not exactly what you would call shabby.

Here are some figures from OpenSe​crets​.org, run by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Contrary to what you might expect, Blackwater is a mixed bag, partly explained by the fact that it is not just one company, but a collection of numerous subsidiaries.

Blackwater Worldwide spent just $60,000 in 2007, which it used to pay two lobbying firms — $40,000 to BCI Group and $20,000 to law firm Womble, Carlyle. But in 2008 its expenditures quadrupled to $240,000 — $70,000 to BCI Group, $160,000 to C&M Capitolink, and $10,000 to Womble, Carlyle.

Blackwater Lodge & Training Center spent $340,000 in 2008 and $90,000 in 2009.

Blackwater USA spent $160,000 in 2006 on C&M Capitolink. In 2007 it spent $332,000 — $290,000 2006 on C&M Capitolink, $12,000 to lobbyist Richard Cockrum, and $332,000 to Gregory Hahn. In 2008 Hahn, for whatever reason earned much less, only $10,000, but C&M Capitolink received $160,000.

In 2002, the most recent year for which there is data, DynCorp’s Internationaal Technical Services division, which in later years, shared the Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract in Iraq with Blackwater, spent a mere $1110,000 — $50,000 to Colex & Assoc and $60,000 to Van Scoyoc Assoc.

Triple Canopy, another company which has shared the WPPS contract spent a mere $10,000 in 2004, but increased to $80,000 in 2005, then $100,000 in 2006, almost $135,000 in 2007, down to $96,000 in 2008, and $165,000 in 2009.

Lobbying is not just for U.S. firms. Aegis Defence Services, a British firm, which holds one of the biggest security contracts in Iraq, coordinating and tracking the movements of various private military contractors there spent $90,000 in 2007 and $80,000 in 2008.

In 2008 Evergreen International Aviation spent $210,000. In 2009 it spent $87,500.

Given the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court last month removing most of the existing restrictions on donations by corporations one can expect to see much more in the future.

Of course, some of these firms, as well as others, are members of various industry trade groups which also lobby on their behalf. It would be interesting for some bright economist to try and figure out which provides more bang for the buck; trade groups or employing lobbyists directly. After all, groups which has long argued their cost‐​effectiveness on the basis of their being lean, mean, corporate, private sector fighting machines would not want to waste their frequently taxpayer funded dollars on duplicative public relations spending.

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