Drone Lobbying Ramps Up Among Industry Manufacturers, Developers

Patrick Egan

Patrick in the Huff Post,

Andrea Stone

“Military vendors are trying to craft the regulations around their products,” said Patrick Egan, a small-business consultant in the industry. “Money talks.”

Companies that specialize in drone technology are clearly getting their messages across.

According to data compiled by the Influence Explorer, a project by the non-partisan, non-profit accountability group Sunlight Foundation, drone-maker AeroVironment gave nearly $23,000 in campaign contributions to Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.). In 2010, the soon-to-retire congressman inserted a $1 million earmark for the company to develop a small but lethal handheld drone. Last year, AeroVironment — which has federal contracts worth more than $100 million — spent almost $2.6 million on lobbyists.

Proxy Aviation, a small Gaithersburg, Md., company that makes software for unmanned aircraft, gave $160,000 last year and $60,000 in the first quarter of 2012 to the lobbying firm of former Republican Texas Rep. Beau Boulter.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, maker of the Army’s Predator drone as well as a surveillance version for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has shelled out $730,000 since for lobbying.