Defense Contractors Spend Big to Win Stealth Bomber Contract

Daniel Stevens | May 13, 2015

Melissa Madia/Shutterstock

May 14, 2015 -- Last month, Politico published a detailed look at the behind-the-scenes lobbying battle beginning to play out among America’s top defense contractors. Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin are all competing to win a contract worth at least $55 billion to develop the Air Force’s next stealth bomber. A MapLight analysis of campaign contributions and lobbying spending shows that the three companies have spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years to influence Congress as the battle for the contract unfolds.

Campaign Contributions Data: MapLight analysis of contributions from the political action committees (PACs) of Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin to the principal campaign committees of all congressional candidates from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2014. Data source: Federal Election Commission

  • The PACs of Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, contributed 21 percent more to congressional candidates during the 2014 election cycle than they did during the 2012 election cycle. Tweet: #Defense companies competing for $55B contract gave 21% more to candidates in 2014 cycle than 2012: via @MapLight

  • The PACs of Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, contributed, on average, 2.1 times more money ($27,000) to members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee compared to the average given to all members of the House ($12,838) during the 2014 election cycle. Tweet: Companies seeking #military contract gave 2.1x more $ to members of defense cmte than to the average rep: @MapLight

Lobbying Data: MapLight analysis of money spent by Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, on lobbying Congress and federal agencies from January 1, 2011 to March 31, 2015. MapLight Lobbying Database Source: Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • During the first quarter of 2015, the three defense contractors seeking the $55 billion stealth bomber contract spent $9.7 million on lobbying. Tweet: As fight for #stealthbomber contract heats up, major defense companies spend $9.7M on lobbying in 2015: via @MapLight

  • The total amount spent by the three defense contractors decreased from $49.9 million in 2013 to $41.3 million in 2014 after Northrop Grumman ramped up its spending in 2013 to $20.4 million. Tweet: Companies seeking #AirForce contract decrease lobbying after @northropgrumman hit peak spending in 2013: @MapLight

Personal Financial Disclosures: MapLight analysis of the 2013 personal financial disclosures of members of Congress to determine which members own stock in Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. MapLight Personal Financial Disclosure Database Source: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives and Office of the Secretary of the Senate, U.S. Senate. 

  • Twenty-nine members of Congress own stock in the three defense companies, worth between $870,719 and $2.5 million. Tweet: 29 members of Congress own stock worth between $871K - $2.5M in companies competing for #defense contract: @MapLight

  • Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) owns between $115,002 and $300,000 worth of stock in the three companies, the highest average among all members of Congress. Tweet: .@RepRichardHanna owns between $115K - $300K worth of stock in companies fighting for #miltary contract: @MapLight

Campaign Contributions Methodology: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to all congressional candidates from the political action committees of the three defense contractors from recently available FEC data from January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2014.

Lobbying Methodology: MapLight analysis of federal lobbying disclosure filings from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives between January 1, 2011, and March 31, 2015. Lobbying totals represent money paid by an organization to each lobbying firm for services on all issues. Organizations report total lobbying expenses as a lump sum, which includes both in-house lobbying expenses and amounts paid to (and reported by) lobbying firms that they employ. MapLight calculates a given organization's in-house lobbying expenses by subtracting the total income reported by the lobbying firms that it employs from the company's total reported expenses. In general, filers may round their spending and expenses to the nearest $10,000, and we treat the designation of "Less than $5,000" as a value of $0. MapLight updates its lobbying database daily to capture amendments. Full reports are due on the 20th day of January, April, July, and October.

Personal Financial Disclosures Methodology: MapLight analysis of 2013 personal financial disclosures for members of the 114th Congress. Data source: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives and Office of the Secretary of the Senate, U.S. Senate. Senate and House rules require the disclosure of assets belonging to the filers' spouses and/or dependent children, and these assets are included in the analysis. This analysis specifically investigates stocks and does not include other types of assets such as corporate bonds, notes, or bank deposits. This analysis was supplemented with data available from the Center for Responsive Politics at

MapLight is a 501(c)3 research organization that tracks money's influence on politics.

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