National security advisers to the Republican presidential candidates have ties to defense, homeland security and energy companies that have received at least $40 billion in federal contracts since 2008.
Five of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s 41 national security and foreign policy advisers have links to companies that last year alone received at least $7.9 billion in federal contracts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government analyst Christopher Flavelle. Of that, $7.3 billion came from the Department of Defense.
Romney and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who are leading in the polls, have advisers who sit on the board of directors of BAE Systems Inc., which has received at least $37 billion in U.S. government contracts since 2008, the most of any of the companies with ties to Republican national security advisers.
William Schneider, an adviser to Gingrich, and Michael Chertoff, who counsels Romney, serve on the board of the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense contractor. The American company makes the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle and provides information technology systems to American intelligence agencies and repair services to the U.S. Navy.
Schneider, a former State Department undersecretary for security assistance, science and technology under President Ronald Reagan, is head of International Planning Services Inc., a consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia.
He also serves on the board of MBDA Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Europe’s largest missile maker. MBDA, which has at least $12 million in U.S. contracts, according to the Bloomberg data, is owned by BAE Systems Plc, Paris and Munich-based European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Co. (EADS) and Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA.
Schneider also serves on the board of Falls Church, Virginia-based Defense Group Inc., whose focus includes research and development in intelligence and cybersecurity. Defense Group has received about $208 million in contracts since 2008 from agencies that include the Defense and Homeland Security departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to data reviewed by Bloomberg. In 2010, the company had $82.2 million in federal contracts, according to the data.
Gingrich has called for securing U.S. borders to “prevent terrorist organizations from sneaking agents and weapons” into the country. During a national security debate on Nov. 22, he said the U.S. must strengthen the tools to detect and deter threats because “all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives.”
A Bigger Toolbox
As a presidential candidate, “you want a competition of information,” Gingrich said in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Dec. 21. “I want a wide range of advice from a wide range of people.”
Schneider didn’t respond to an e-mail requesting comment.
The BAE Systems board is comprised of “some of the most experienced national security experts” who have advised “presidents, secretaries of defense and other prominent national security officials for both Republican and Democratic administrations, as well as members of Congress,” said Brian Roehrkasse, a BAE spokesman, in an e-mailed statement. “All of our board members adhere to conflict of interest agreements.”
It is not uncommon for candidates to recruit advisers with ties to the defense industry, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based organization that tracks government spending.
More Voices Needed
“These are the people who have knowledge of the industry, but those can’t be the only voices in the room,” Ellis said in a telephone interview. “The candidates have to get a diversity of views from other areas if they want to have a responsible national security policy.”
The Romney advisers with ties to military contractors include Chertoff, a former Homeland Security secretary; former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden; former CIA and State Department Counterterrorism Director Cofer Black; former Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim; and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long.
In addition to BAE Systems, those former government officials are linked to companies that include Alion Science & Technology Corp. and Blackbird Technologies Inc.
Romney has called for boosting shipbuilding and missile defense and a strategy to defend against cyber attacks, terrorism and espionage.
Romney Shipbuilding Initiative
He has said that, as president, he would announce an initiative to increase the shipbuilding rate to 15 a year, up from the current nine ships annually. The Navy paid $3.2 billion in contracts last year to companies now associated with Romney advisers. Those companies include BAE and Alion, according to the Bloomberg Government analysis.
At least six companies that are tied to advisers to Romney’s campaign provide cybersecurity services to the federal government, the data shows. They include BAE, InfoZen Inc., and security-clearance company KeyPoint Government Solutions Inc., all of which count Chertoff as a board member; Motorola Solutions Inc. and Alion, whose boards include Hayden; and Blackbird, where Black is a vice president.
Romney advisers also have business ties to each other. Hayden is a principal at Chertoff’s consulting company, the Chertoff Group, which in turn is a client of Metis Solutions, owned by Mary Beth Long, another Romney adviser. Another client of Metis, according to the company’s website, is Alion, on whose board Hayden sits.
Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, said in a statement to Bloomberg Government that the final defense policy decisions rest with Romney.
“Mitt Romney has assembled a diverse group of highly respected foreign policy thinkers. He fields their opinions, evaluates them and ultimately makes his own decisions on policy,” she said.
Gingrich has called for the implementation of an energy plan “to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from dangerous and unstable countries, especially in the Middle East,” according to his campaign website.
R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director who serves as an adviser to Gingrich, is a venture partner at Lux Capital, an investment firm focused on emerging technologies, including energy. Woolsey also leads the strategic advisory group of Paladin Capital Group, a private equity fund in Washington with a portfolio that includes alternative energy and cyber security. Woolsey serves as the chairman of his own firm Woolsey Partners LLC.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has several informal foreign policy and national security advisers with ties to oil companies. John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is on the board of Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc., a Houston-based deep-water drilling contractor. Another adviser to Texas Governor Perry, Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, is a director on the board of United Arab Emirates-based Rak Petroleum.