Friday, July 31, 2015

House For Sale

A 2013 anti-corruption ad by Represent.Us.

Fourteen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter July 30 asking if SpaceX should “be decertified for military launch” after the failure of its June 28 Falcon 9 upper stage 2½ minutes after liftoff.

The letter also questions whether the Falcon 9 should require recertification if upgraded. SpaceX routinely integrates upgrades into the Falcon 9 and the Dragon cargo ship to improve performance for its customers.

The letter was sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Air Force Secretary Deborah James. Twelve of the signatories are Republicans. Two are Democrats.

Eleven of the fourteen signatories received significant campaign contributions in 2014 from Boeing and/or Lockheed Martin, the partner companies of SpaceX rival United Launch Alliance.

The primary signatories were Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA). A review of 2014 campaign contributions on showed that Coffman received $4,000 from Boeing and $13,500 from Lockheed Martin for a total of $17,500. Forbes received $7,000 from Boeing and $10,000 from Lockheed Martin, for a total of $17,000.

United Launch Alliance itself contributes relatively little in campaign donations, but employs some of the same lobbyists as its parent company. According to, ULA also uses Boeing's lobbying firm S-3 Group, sharing lobbyists Martin Delgado, Mike Ference, and John Scofield. ULA and LockMart use lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, sharing lobbyists Douglas Gregory and Kevin Kelly.

In 2014, ULA spent about $1 million on lobbying, while parents Boeing spent $16.8 million and LockMart spent $14.6 million.

Contrast those numbers with SpaceX, which spent $1.5 million in 2014 on lobbying, according to

During 2014, Boeing made $2.2 million in donations to federal candidates, and Lockheed Martin $2.6 million. SpaceX contributed a total of $379,000 in campaign donations in 2014, with the highest amount $6,000 each to Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Adam Smith (D-WA). Of the fourteen who sent the July 30 letter, only Terri Sewell (D-AL) had received a SpaceX campaign contribution in 2014, $1,000.

Below is a table listing the 2014 campaign contributions received by each signatory from Boeing and/or Lockheed Martin. Candidates receive contributions from other sources, e.g. congressional campaign and other Political Action Committees (PACs) that launder contributions from corporations so they can be donated as “soft money” to a candidate. Ken Buck, for example, received $10,000 from Majority Cmte PAC, which received $10,000 from Rep. Mike Coffman, the primary signatory on the letter and recipient of $17,500 from Boeing/Lockmart.

Aderholt, Robert (R-AL) 10,000 10,000 20,000
Bishop, Rob (R-UT) 0 10,000 10,000
Brooks, Mo (R-AL) 10,000 11,000 21,000
Buck, Ken (R-CO) 0 0 0
Byrne, Bradley (R-AL) 9,000 0 9,000
Coffman, Mike (R-CO) 4,000 13,500 17,500
Cole, Tom (R-OK) 10,000 10,500 20,500
Forbes, Randy (R-VA) 7,000 10,000 17,000
Heck, Denny (D-WA) 10,000 0 10,000
Hice, Jody (R-GA) 0 0 0
Lamborn, Doug (R-CO) 7,000 10,000 17,000
Roby, Martha (R-AL) 9,000 10,000 19,000
Sewell, Terri (D-AL) 3,000 0 3,000
Tipton, Scott (R-CO) 0 0 0

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