That the revolving door between the U.S. government, both the executive or legislative branches, and the defense industry is alive and well is no secret. But chalk another one up for Capitol Hill. In addition to a top Northrop Grumman official joining the House Armed Services Committee in 2011 (after receiving a lucrative severance bonus on his way out) to oversee the very same weapons systems he lobbied for, now it's the Senate Armed Services Committee's turn.
The Project on Government Oversight reports:
Ann Elise Sauer, who left Lockheed last year, is now the Republican staff director at the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Committee oversees military spending, including major weapons systems that are central to Lockheed’s business.
Sauer received more than $1.66 million from Lockheed during a reporting period that encompasses this year and last year, according to a financial disclosure form she filed in April. The $1.66 million included salary, bonus, deferred compensation and a lump sum described in the filing as “RETIRED PAY.”
Sauer was appointed to the Senate staff position in February. Her financial disclosure form, recently noted by Legistorm, called attention to her appointment.
Who hired Sauer? The ranking Republican on the committee, supposed critic of wasteful defense spending -- like on Lockheed Martin's terminally expensive and embattled F-35 and F-22 programs -- Sen. John McCain. POGO:
McCain has a history as a vocal critic of Lockheed Martin programs. Before Sauer’s appointment, McCain referred to the beleaguered F-22 as an “expensive corroding hangar queen” and labeled the F-35 program “a scandal and a tragedy.”
More recently, McCain announced that he will be joining Lockheed Martin and other Pentagon contractors in their fight to avoid defense sequestration -– a potential consequence of last year’s Budget Control Act that could reduce defense spending to approximately 2007 levels.
“I have to admit I was shocked when we learned this,” Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director, said of Sauer’s appointment.
“For at least a decade, McCain has had no peers in the Congress when it comes to oversight of major defense contractors,” Brian said. “I don't see how he can possibly continue this legacy given this staffing decision, and that is terribly disappointing,” she added.
A formidable opponent to any lasting, credible reformations of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex is, of course, this very revolving-door climate that reeks of conflicts of interest. As Brian alluded to, McCain has shown a willingness to at least chip away at some of the worst excesses of the cozy relationship between government and the defense industry during his time in the Senate. But rather than seek opportunities to attack this chummy relationship, which only aids a system that encourages supreme waste and military aggression, McCain has chosen a very different path for his committee, a lead entity in oversight of an industry that has enjoyed record profits and revenue in recent years.
Though, is it much of a surprise given McCain and fellow Republican senators are set to embark on a tour through states with high levels of defense manufacturing jobs to claim -- without the facts -- that cuts to the defense budget would put "one million jobs at risk"?