CREDO Action

Crack down on Pentagon corruption

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Petition to the House of Representatives:

"Crack down on the revolving door between the Pentagon and major military contractors. Support amendments 208, 226, 394, 555 and 556 to the National Defense Authorization Act."

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    Crack down on Pentagon corruption

    Thanks to arcane Pentagon accounting rules and outright obstruction, we may never know the cost of waste at the Department of Defense (DOD). But we also should be asking: How much does a general cost?

    An investigation by our friends at the Project On Government Oversight found more than 600 instances in which the top 20 Pentagon contractors hired former top military officers, senior government officials or members of Congress.1 For massive corporate military contractors, hiring former senior officials to lobby their colleagues for more billion-dollar contracts is just part of the game. For the rest of us, it sounds a lot like corruption.

    House Democrats are pushing to add new ethics rules to the National Defense Authorization Act, the mega-bill that sets Pentagon funding levels. A vote is expected any day now, so they need our help now.

    Tell Congress: Crack down on Pentagon corruption.

    The Senate blocked the Democratic House of Representatives' signature ethics package, but now we have another chance. If Democratic representatives succeed in amending the NDAA, these new Pentagon ethics rules would almost certainly become law.

    Military spending sucks up more than half of the federal budget ‒ even before you add in the blank-check war slush fund for ongoing overseas military actions or the unknown dark budget for covert programs. For decades, progressives fought for a Pentagon audit. When it happened, the auditors discovered so much opposition and accounting malpractice that they could not tell whether the DOD passed or failed.2

    Ethics abuses and outright corruption fuel much of the outrageous spending. Senior officers, members of Congress and aides all jump to massive corporate weapons suppliers and then pitch their old friends to keep the dollars flowing. Junior officers are scared to blow the whistle and risk losing out on a future lucrative job of their own.

    House Democrats are pushing for new rules that close major loopholes on the revolving door between the Pentagon and corporate contractors, force companies to report more lobbying contacts, expose a lobbyist database to public scrutiny, and impose new restrictions on working for foreign governments. Every ethics push like this puts a spotlight on the corruption riddling the Pentagon, so we need to speak out.

    Tell Congress: Crack down on Pentagon corruption.

    Right-wing politicians and Fox News breathlessly trumpet every small school funding mishap or health care conflict-of-interest, all while some of the most profitable companies in history rely on government contracts won by hiring former high-ranking officials. The NDAA is a $750 billion disaster that members of Congress should oppose outright, especially at a time when teachers are going on strike and too many rank-and-file service members live below the poverty line.3

    At the very least, Congress should add new ethics rules to that massive authorization for spending. The revolving door between the Pentagon and the big corporate military contractors has to end.

    Tell Congress: Crack down on Pentagon corruption.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Mandy Smithberger, "Brass Parachutes: The Problem of the Pentagon Revolving Door," Project On Government Oversight, November 2018.
    2. Dave Lindorff, "Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed," The Nation, Nov. 27, 2018.
    3. Huzaifa Shahbaz, "$750 Billion NDAA Steamrolls Ahead," National Priorities Project, June 28, 2019.