Report: Military-Industrial Complex Campaign Checks Help Explain Bloated Pentagon Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The military-industrial complex contributed a combined $10.2 million in the 2022 cycle to lawmakers who voted to lavish the military with tens of billions more than either the Pentagon or the White House requested, according to a new Public Citizen report based on campaign finance data collected by OpenSecrets.org.

The report helps explain lawmaker’s eagerness to waste tens of billions more in taxpayer funds on the already bloated military budget. In June, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted to increase the Pentagon budget by $37.5 billion over the $813 billion the White House requested, and the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee voted to increase the Pentagon budget by $45 billion.

If the final FY 2023 budget ultimately reaches the amount approved by the Senate committee, defense contractors will have clinched a nearly 450,000% return on their $10 million investment in 2022 campaign and PAC contributions.

Senate committee members who voted to increase the defense budget and received the most from the defense sector over the past six years are:

  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member and recipient of $874,876,
  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), committee chair and recipient of $822,757, and
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and recipient of $616,152.

House committee members who voted to increase the defense budget and received the most from the defense sector over the past two years include:

  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member and recipient of $404,525,
  • Rob Wittman (R-Va.), vice ranking member and recipient of $237,799, and
  • Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), recipient of $150,950

“The military-industrial complex’s campaign spending spree gives war profiteers an outsized influence over Pentagon funding votes,” said Savannah Wooten, People Over Pentagon campaign coordinator for Public Citizen and one of the authors of the report. “It creates a self-fulfilling annual cycle where money from the industry begets money for the industry. Instead of working overtime to secure defense contractor profits, Congress should prioritize the true, urgent human needs of everyday people.”