President Donald Trump says the U.S. is issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of a crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people. (March 13)
WASHINGTON – Chicago-based Boeing spent more than $753,000 on candidates and both Democratic and Republican organizations last month, underscoring the defense contractor’s role as a hefty political donor.
The company, facing renewed scrutiny after two catastrophic crashes of its 737 Max 8 aircraft, gave heavily to organizations helping to elect members of the House as well as governors, according to its latest Federal Election Commission report. The company’s political action committee also contributed directly to nearly 100 congressional candidates in February.
Among the beneficiaries: Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Several House members who received money from Boeing in February sit on the Appropriations or Armed Services panels, including Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The February report, made public on Wednesday, covers a period before last week’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and after the crash in October of a Lion Air Flight off the coast of Indonesia.
Boeing, the second-largest U.S. government contractor, will see its clout tested amid congressional investigations. Lawmakers want to know how the plane was approved, what caused the crashes in Ethiopia and off the coast of the Indonesia and why the FAA delayed its order to ground the planes.
In 2017, the federal government spent $23 billion with Boeing, a U.S. General Services Administration report shows. Lockheed Martin Corp. was the No. 1 federal contractor, receiving more than $50 billion for its services in the same year.
Boeing’s political action committee, which receives the bulk of its money from employee contributions, files monthly reports of its political spending. Maryland-based Lockheed reported spending $364,000 during the same period and Virginia-based Northrop Grumman, another major defense contractor, spent $171,790.
The company’s spending in February was not inconsistent with past months. In the run up to the 2018 midterm election, Boeing’s PAC regularly spent several million dollars each month on candidates and political organizations, a USA TODAY analysis shows. The report also does not include millions more spent directly by Boeing employees.
Like other large U.S. employers and defense contractors, Boeing spends heavily every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, generally spreading that money between Democrats and Republicans. Boeing spent $15 million lobbying in 2018, according to disclosure reports, making it among the largest players in Washington.
A spokesman for Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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