February 3, 2012

Stealth Influence: Defense Contractors Lavish Congressman McKeon’s Wife With Campaign Donations

Stealth Influence: Defense Contractors Lavish Congressman McKeon's Wife With Campaign Donations
Rep. Buck McKeon's (R-CA) wife is being lavished with defense industry campaign contributions.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) has a very powerful role in the House of Representatives. As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he controls billions of dollars of government spending, much of it going to the military-industrial complex. Thus, it’s no surprise that the defense industry donated more than $339,000 to his 2010 re-election campaign, with his top four contributors being defense contractors.

Yet as the Republic Report’s Lee Fang has uncovered, it appears that the defense industry has discovered a new conduit for influencing McKeon: his wife. Patricia McKeon is running for a California Legislature seat in a district that overlaps much of her husband’s. Fang first discovered that Mrs. McKeon received a donation from a political expenditure group — the Fund for American Opportunity — run by a D.C. lobbyist who had already maxed out his donations to Mr. McKeon. It was the only donation the PAC made to a state race in California that year.

Following the release of campaign disclosures, Fang then reported that Patricia McKeon received at least “$19,200 from defense contractors or their registered lobbyists” in just her first few months of fundraising. This fundraising is particularly ominous given the fact that the California legislature has little sway over issues that concern the defense industry. Rather, these donations appear to be aimed at influencing her husband.

The story has caught fire, with coverage from outlets including National Journal, Ventura County Star, and GovExec. Republic Report will continue to follow this story. In the meantime, check out Fang’s interview with local radio station KHTS.