By Jonathan D. Salant
Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) tripled its political giving and increased spending on lobbying as it fended off Obama administration efforts to cut spending for a version of its Global Hawk surveillance drone.
The defense contractor’s political action committee made $1.3 million in federal campaign donations during the first six months of 2013. That was second only to Honeywell International Inc. (HON) and three times the $372,000 contributed during the same period two years ago, Federal Election Commission reports show. Northrop spent $9.3 million to lobby from January to June, up from $8.6 million in the first half of 2012, according to U.S. Senate filings
At the same time Northrop is boosting its Capitol Hill advocacy, U.S. lawmakers are considering rejecting, for the second consecutive year, the administration’s effort to reduce funding for the Global Hawk version known as Block 30. The Defense Department said the unmanned surveillance aircraft isn’t “affordable in an austere budget environment” and that upgraded models of the 58-year-old U-2 spy plane can fly the missions.
“There doesn’t appear to be any other pending issues that would cause such a dramatic change in campaign contribution behavior” by Northrop, the fifth-biggest Pentagon contractor, said Craig Holman, who lobbies for stricter campaign-finance laws for the Washington-based advocacy group Public Citizen. “There’s too much at stake. Their campaign contribution patterns reflect that.”