Report Shows Lawmakers Heavily Invested in War
A new report out reveals that top legislators have millions of their own dollars invested in the military-industrial complex.
By Pat Shannan
A new study by a nonpartisan
research group shows that lawmakers’
stock holdings in various companies doing business with the Defense Department
totals more than $196 million, earning the congress critters millions in
profits individually since the start of the war in Iraq.
The Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics
says that 2006 financial disclosure statements suggest that
members’ holdings could pose a conflict of interest as they decide the fate of Iraq war
spending. Several members who earned the most from defense contractors have
plum committee or leadership assignments, including Democratic Sen. John Kerry,
independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.
The study found
that more Republicans than Democrats hold stock in defense companies, but that
the Democrats who are invested had significantly more money at stake. In 2006,
for example, Democrats held at least $3.7 million in military-related
investments, compared to Republican investments of $577,500.
members hold investments worth $78.7 million to $195.5 million in companies
that receive defense contracts that are worth at least $5 million. These
investments earned them anywhere between $15.8 million and $62 million between
2004 and 2006, the center concluded.
It is unclear
how many members still hold these investments and exactly how much money has
been made. Disclosure reports for 2007 are still being vetted. Also, members
are required to report only a general range of their holdings.
According to the
report, presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain did not report
any defense-related holdings on their filing.
Not all the
companies invested in by lawmakers are typical defense contractors.
Corporations such as PepsiCo, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson have at
one point received defense-related contracts, the report notes.
“So common are
these companies, both as personal investments and as defense contractors, it
would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at
least some of them,” wrote the center’s Lindsay Renick Mayer.
dividends from companies tied to the military “could be problematic” for
members that oversee defense policy and budgeting, Mayer adds.
a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is identified as earning
the most—at least $2.6 million between 2004 and 2006 from investments worth up to
Wade said Kerry, who opposes the war in Iraq, is one of many beneficiaries of
family trusts which he doesn’t control. Wade also noted that Kerry does not sit
on the Appropriations Committee, which has direct control of the defense
“He has a
24-year Senate record of working and voting in the best interests of our men
and women in the military, not of any defense contractors,” Wade said.
independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee, held a
considerably smaller share at $51,000.
A spokesman for
Blunt, a senior member of House Republican leadership who held at least $15,000
in Lockheed Martin stock in 2006, said the insinuation that lawmakers’ votes
might be affected by their portfolios is “offensive.”
“I don’t pretend
to speak for other offices, but I am fairly certain that no member would
consider their personal finances when voting on issues as important as sending
our men and women in uniform into harm’s way,” said Blunt spokesman Nick
expecting then to hear an offer of ocean front property for sale in Missouri, but none was
forthcoming from Simpson at this time.
Both Lieberman and Blunt support continued operations