Congressmen Murtha, Hunter Among BAE's Favorites

By Katherine Poythress | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

Washington ( - Political action committees (PACs) associated with the United Kingdom-based BAE Systems have given almost $4 million in campaign contributions to U.S. politicians since 1997.

The company acknowledged last month it is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged anti-corruption law violations.

Republicans received just over $2 million in the last 10 years while Democrats received just over $1 million. Since the Democrats took power in the Senate and House after the 2006 elections, however, giving by BAE PACs has shifted, with a majority of the cash now flowing to Democrats.

The PACs contribute to hundreds of campaigns, but they save the biggest money for lawmakers who have the best potential to serve BAE's interests.

Of the 10 members of the U.S. House who have received the most from BAE's PACs, five are Republicans and five are Democrats. Seven were members of either the House Armed Services Committee or the Defense Appropriations Committee.

Of the top five Senate recipients, four were Republicans, and four belonged to either the Armed Services or the Defense Appropriations committee.

Those four committees deal almost exclusively with issues likely to affect BAE's U.S. operations.

Topping the list is Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.), who has received more than $83,000 in contributions since 1999 from BAE PACs. Murtha, an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, is the current chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Committee.

Repeated calls to Murtha's office requesting comment were not returned.

In second place behind Murtha is Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), former chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president. Hunter received more than $72,000 from the BAE PACs.

Responding to questions about the contributions, Hunter's Communications Director Joe Kasper issued a statement to Cybercast News Service obliquely addressing the BAE PAC funds.

"Congressman Hunter has no expectations for doing what he believes is in the best interest of our nation," said Kasper. "He consistently does what he thinks is right for the country and if people agree with him and want to support him, that's fine. If they don't, that's fine too."

Number three on the list is California's former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R), who pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2 million in bribes from defense contractors - BAE was not among them. Cunningham received $65,200 in campaign contributions from BAE PACs.

Representatives and senators in 45 states took in contributions from BAE PACs, ranging from a low of $3,000 (Oregon) to a high of $362,000 (California). Other states in the top five are Virginia, Texas, New York and Murtha's home state of Pennsylvania.

More highlights from the Cybercast News Service analysis can be found here.

( Sr. Staff Writer Jeff Golimowski contributed to this report.)

See related story:
Scandal-Plagued Arms Dealer Big Spender on Capitol Hill (Jul. 11 2007)

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