"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Republic Report: Northrop Grumman Employee Paid Bonus Before Joining House Committee

UPDATE:  06/13/2012/3:35 p.m:

Report: Blumenthal Calls on Northrop to Explain Bonus

Earlier this week, Republic Report had the story of how Northrop Grumman paid an employee, Thomas MacKenzie, a $498,334 bonus before he left to join the House Armed Services Committee as a staffer, an amount that almost equaled his annual salary.

Now, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is calling on the defense contractor to "explain to Congress and the American public" the payment, according to the Connecticut Post. The Post reports that Northrop has announced it is shuttering a plant in Connecticut.

The Post reports:
"The company owes that explanation, particularly in light of its decision to close the Northrop plant in Norwalk,'' Blumenthal said. ...

Blumenthal, a freshman member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said MacKenzie's bonus "is totally inexplicable.''

At the least, Blumenthal said, "The perception is horrible, at a time when the credibility of Congress is certainly in question. I'm concerned about the integrity of the Defense Department budget if it is tainted by any whiff of a payoff.''

Efforts to reach MacKenzie were unsuccessful, but Northrop said there was nothing unusual about the payment, and the Armed Services Committee said he was an excellent hire.

Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) took back over this committee after the GOP won back the House and then tapped someone from Northrup Grumman one of the three major aerospace companies to start work with the Committee in March of 2011.  If that is not a conflict of interest, I don't know the meaning.  Taking a vice president at Northrop Grumman, Thomas MacKenzie, defies any sense of ethics that I can think of today and then learning that Northrop paid him a huge bonus before he took the job makes it worse.  A little recent background on Mr. MacKenzie, a former Naval aviator and Naval Academy grad:
MacKenzie joined Northrop Grumman in 2005 as corporate director of navy programs. Before coming to Northrop Grumman, he had spent seven years as the senior professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he was responsible for providing recommendations on oversight of all aviation, shipbuilding and associated weapons systems development and procurement programs.   
ARLINGTON, Va., May 17, 2007 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has named Thomas L. MacKenzie, vice president of naval programs. In this position, MacKenzie reports to Larry Lanzillotta, vice president of customer relations within Northrop Grumman's government relations organization located in the company's Washington office.
That second paragraph above from the Northrop Grumman press release screams lobbyist.  So Mr. MacKenzie goes from senior staff on the Armed Services Committee to a fat cat job with Northrop and then gets promoted, goes back to Armed Services and gets a huge bonus from Northrop.  We are supposed to just do a wink and nod -- nothing to see here folks just move along.

When I changed the name of the blog to incorporate Republicans, little did I realize that it would be so true.  How much did Northrop donate McKeon to get their person on the Committee?  From Open Secrets:

Top 5 Contributors, 2011-2012, Campaign Cmte
Lockheed Martin  $64,250   $54,250   $10,000
Northrop Grumman  $50,500   $34,500   $16,000
General Dynamics  $36,000   $26,000   $10,000
General Atomics  $32,500   $22,500   $10,000
Boeing Co  $31,750   $21,750   $10,000

Top 5 Industries, 2011-2012, Campaign Cmte
Defense Aerospace  $168,500   $84,000   $84,500
Misc Defense  $144,100   $66,600   $77,500
Defense Electronics  $116,500   $51,000   $65,500
Lobbyists  $46,349   $44,384   $1,965
Education   $43,250  $26,250   $17,000
Representative McKeon, by far the biggest recipient of Northrop Grumman campaign contributions in Congress, has defended billions of dollars in questionable projects for MacKenzie’s former employer. McKeon has fought to cancel the retirement of the Northrop’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, a drone the Pentagon could save $2.5 billion by cutting. He’s pressed to secure funding for a range of different aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman, from a new nuclear-capable long-range bomber to the F-35, which is slated to be the most expensive weapon developed in human history. Earlier this year, McKeon visited a Northrop plant and rallied employees to help him stave off nearly $500 billion in sequestration cuts to the defense budget as part of the deficit-reduction deal.
When I saw the F-35 listed as a system McKeon is trying to secure funding, it dawned on me while Lockheed, #1 contributor to McKeon, is the prime on the F35, Northrop and BAE are subcontractors.  That explains the donations from #1 Lockheed and #2 Northrop to McKeon.

No wonder the Defense budget is so far out of control and bloated when you have someone from Northrop working on Armed Services Committee and the Chair receives so many campaign contributions from the Aerospace community.  This is just wrong.  IMHO no Chairman should be allowed to accept donations from the companies who are involved with his committee.  In this case, it looks like pay for play anyway you slice it.  

This Republican House is not going to be looked at much favorably then the four years of Democrat control especially their last two when Obama was President, and they went nuts with the liberal's pet projects.  Now we are seeing the same thing with Republicans which is frankly disgusting.  I have been around the Defense Department most of my adult life and when I hear a member of Congress say that we cannot cut defense as it will hurt our troops, I cringe.  Guess when you are bought and paid for, you don't want to see all the wasted dollars especially when the waste comes from the same people who fund your campaign and provide committee members. 

My husband used to visit Northrop when he was heading programs for the MX Missile and then Minuteman.            I had seen the major companies come to the Command Section in the Headquarters trying to influence contracts for the Air Force Materiel Command but it was nothing compared to what I saw out of Northrop trying to influence the Ballistic Missile Office (BMO).   This doesn't shock me even a little but the fact a Republican Chair is involved disappoints me but I should know from experience that is how the DoD budget and especially the Air Force which I know best gets so bloated.  This I admit takes it to a new level:

Report: Northrop Grumman Employee Paid Bonus Before Joining House Committee

June 11, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.

Lee Fang of Republic Report reports on how Northrop Grumman paid an employee a six-figure bonus before he joined the House Armed Services Committee as a staffer:

In 2011, after Republicans seized the House of Representatives in a landslide victory, the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the military, gained a new chairman, Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA). As with most leadership changes, McKeon and his committee hired new professional staff. Thomas MacKenzie, a vice president at Northrop Grumman, was tapped to work for the committee beginning in March of 2011.

There are many examples of lobbyists burrowing into government to work in policy areas that impact their former employers. These lobbyists, as Public Citizen's Craig Holman, an expert on lobbying, has explained, seem happy to accept low-paid public service salaries, perhaps because they can expect extremely high pay once they return to K Street.

In MacKenzie's case, Northrop Grumman made sure he had extra cash before he went to work writing policy on the defense budget. Republic Report viewed a recently filed ethics disclosure form, and found that Northrop Grumman paid MacKenzie a $498,334 bonus in 2011, just before he went to work under McKeon as a committee staffer. The bonus was almost the size of MacKenzie's annual salary at the firm, which was $529,379 in 2010.

Neither MacKenzie or the House Armed Services Committee communications director responded to multiple requests for comment from Republic Report. As a congressional staffer, MacKenzie now makes close to $100,000 a year.
Source:  Influence Alley of the National Journal 

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...


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