Warren wants defense contractors covered by federal open records laws

By Tony Bertuca / May 16, 2019 at 10:29 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has released a proposal to reform the "military industrial complex" that would, among other things, require that private defense companies like Lockheed Martin comply with federal open records laws.

Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has made cutting defense spending a signature feature of her 2020 presidential campaign, posted her new reform proposal on the website Medium.

"Defense contractors should be required to disclose the true scope of their lobbying activities -- including who they're meeting with at the DOD, what they're lobbying about, and what (unclassified) information they're sharing," Warren wrote. "And federal open records laws should apply to private defense contractors so the public can understand what they're doing."

Warren said Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, received more than $35 billion in defense contracts in 2017 -- more than the budget for NASA.

"Many of these private companies are under pressure to show year over year revenue to their shareholders and investors on Wall Street," she wrote. "That means they are constantly pressuring the federal government for more spending  --  regardless of our national security needs. It's long past time for real reform."

Another of Warren's proposed reforms would stop the "revolving door" between the Pentagon and the private sector by barring senior defense officials from working as defense contractors or lobbyists for a period of four years once they have left government service. Contractors would also be required to identify former DOD officials working for them.

Warren said that in 2018 the top 20 defense contractors hired 645 former government officials.

"There are talented and patriotic Americans who work in the defense industry," Warren wrote. "But today, the coziness between defense lobbyists, Congress, and the Pentagon -- what former President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex -- tilts countless decisions, big and small, away from legitimate national security interests, and toward the desires of giant corporations that thrive off taxpayer dollars."