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Pentagon May Have Violated Lobbying Prohibition: Email Shows Collusion with Defense Contractors on Pentagon Budget

August 1, 2001 

 

An email obtained by POGO shows that the Defense Department may have violated the law by lobbying against an amendment to the Pentagon's military budget proposed and approved by the Armed Services Committee today. The amendment was offered by Representative Neil Abercrombie and is described by defense contractor lobbyists in the email as a "TRAC-Type Amendment," in reference to the proposed House legislation known as the Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability in Contracting Act (TRAC).

The email is a National Defense Industrial Association legislative alert forwarded from Lockheed Martin to an official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OSD-ATL). The email was then forwarded twice, the first time with the text: "See the attachment. Same topic, but note that NDIA is sending this out - I wonder if CSA and PSC would be interested in seeing this?" presumably in reference to contractor-lobbying groups the Contract Services Association and the Professional Services Council. The email was forwarded a second time to a variety of individuals, some within the Pentagon with the note "FYI–Please work this with your legislative offices."

POGO has sent a letter to Representative Abercrombie concerning the potentially illegal lobbying by the Pentagon on behalf of the defense industry. Lobbying with Congressionally-appropriated funds is a criminal violation under U.S. Code Title 18 Sec. 1913 "Lobbying with appropriated moneys" which says:

    "No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, to favor or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress, whether before or after the introduction of any bill or resolution proposing such legislation or appropriation; but this shall not prevent officers or employees of the United States or of its departments or agencies from communicating to Members of Congress on the request of any Member or to Congress, through the proper official channels, requests for legislation or appropriations which they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business.

    Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, violates or attempts to violate this section, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and after notice and hearing by the superior officer vested with the power of removing him, shall be removed from office or employment." (To access directly go to U.S. Code on the web at www.access.gpo.gov/congress/cong013.html and search by "18 usc 1913".)


Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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