Saturday, November 08, 2003

I've just had a chance to look over the Center for Public Integrity's recent report on the campaign contributions of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report claims to be a damning expose of political cronyism and kickbacks. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see the relationship. First, as others have pointed out, there's no clear relationship between the size of contracts and the amounts contributed. Second, as a recent WaPo op-ed by the Clinton administration official in charge of federal procurement pointed out, there's no evidence of political influence in the contracting process. Third, as the CPI report shows, these were contributions to Democrats AND Republicans. I quote:

"According to the Center's analysis, the companies, their political action committees and their employees contributed a total of nearly $49 million to national political campaigns and parties since 1990. Donations to Republican Party committees—the Republican National Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee—outpaced those to Democratic committees, $12.7 million to $7.1 million. Among individual candidates, President George Bush received more money from these companies than any other, a little over $500,000."

They don't include a breakdown of contributions for each company by party, so for all we know, the top contractors might have given as much of more of their contributions to Democrats rather than Republicans. Also, not the "since 1990" formulation. Looking just at party contributions, that amounts to contributions of about $1.5 million a year total, with about $0.98 million for the GOP and $0.55 million for the Dems. Also, this is spread out over about 70 companies, leaving an average contribution of about $21,000 per company.

Again, maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see much smoke here and certainly no evidence of a fire.

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