Category Archives: Revolving Door

New York Times runs Michael Hayden pro-drone op-ed; fails to disclose ties to drone manufacturers

In its Sunday Review section on February 21, 2016, the New York Times ran a column titled “To Keep America Safe, Embrace Drone Warfare.” The article’s thesis is summarized in its second-last sentence: “Civilians have died, but in my firm opinion, the death toll from terrorist attacks would have been much higher if we had not taken action;” and it was written by Michael V Hayden, who directed first the National Security Agency and then the Central Intelligence Agency under George W Bush. Hayden currently serves on the board of several defense industry corporations, including drone manufacturers.

Though the Times identified Hayden’s past government positions at the end of the article, the newspaper failed to disclose Hayden’s present role on the board of Motorola Solutions, a military and defense contractor that recently made an investment in CyPhy Works, which produces unmanned aerial vehicles – drones. Motorola Solutions paid Hayden $240,125 for his service on its board in 2015.

The Times also did not mention that Hayden served, until last year, on the board of Alion Sciences, a information technology firm that serves the US military. Hayden joined Alion’s board in 2010 in a term that ended in 2015. In 2012, Alion was awarded a $24 million contract to develop the US Navy’s unmanned and automatic weapons systems. From Alion’s press release:

Alion’s NSWC PCD work includes technical engineering to increase unmanned and automated weapon systems capabilities for such tasks as the implementation of unmanned systems payloads on “commercial off the shelf” or existing non-developmental unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with limited modifications. Under the contract, this work can include UUVs, unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In 2014, Alion issued a notice that it was suspending its filings with the SEC because it had fewer than 300 security holders, so Hayden’s compensation from that firm is not available.

It is also noteworthy that Hayden is a principal at the Chertoff Group, a consulting firm that advises defense industry clients on how to obtain government contracts, another detail that went unmentioned in the Times.

Hayden’s positions on the boards of the defense contractors whose business he advocated for in the Times can be seen in the map below:

The Times’s failure to disclose Hayden’s ties to the industry he was advocating in its pages is the latest example of a trend of media outlets running commentary by defense experts that also have a financial stake in perpetuating warfare. PAI reported on this phenomenon – and Hayden’s involvement – in 2013 with respect to President Obama’s proposed war in Syria.

Keystone pols have a gas in Manhattan over the Pennsylvania Society weekend

While we have been giving a lot of blog attention to New York State over the past few weeks, highlighting Governor Cuomo’s ties to the business lobbies pushing for natural gas in New York, Pennsylvania’s titans of business and politics paid their respects to the Empire State this past weekend, making their annual pilgrimage to New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria for the Pennsylvania Society Weekend.

Alternately called a “weekend-long marathon of dinners and cocktails” that “brings together political, civic and business leaders from across Pennsylvania and across the aisle” and an “orgy of eating, drinking and, needless to say, politicking by the state’s most powerful and influential people,” the Pennsylvania Society weekend is a 114-year-old tradition wherein Pennsylvania elites, “[p]oliticians from the governor down, lobbyists and lawyers seeking their favor, corporate chiefs from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia inclined to write campaign checks,” gather in New York for what has expanded to more than 60 events sponsored by candidates, law firms, and interest groups.

Former Governor Ed Rendell told the New York Times that the weekend of schmoozing is a compulsion: “For politicians, it’s like salmon swimming upstream to give birth. We do it by instinct.”

Like all things political in Pennsylvania, the natural gas industry has a pervasive presence at the Pennsylvania Society, where revolving door lobbyists tipple with policymakers and hopefuls at thousand dollar a head receptions and break bread at invitation-only dinners all in the twinkly, gilded grandeur of midtown Manhattan in December.

Continue reading Keystone pols have a gas in Manhattan over the Pennsylvania Society weekend

Who’s spying on nonprofits for corporate America?

The Center for Corporate Policy recently released a report demonstrating how large corporations hire former law enforcement officials to spy on nonprofit organizations considered to be a threat to them. We added all of the firms in the report to a list in LittleSis–Corporate Espionage Firms–to take a closer look at some of the people behind these firms.

A sampling of corporate espionage firms, the people behind them and their former government employers

Continue reading Who’s spying on nonprofits for corporate America?

For richer, for poorer: the revolving door between Boeing and Washington State

All smiles in Washington State after handing $8.7 billion to Boeing, the largest state tax subsidy in US history

The State of Washington made headlines earlier this week for pledging the largest state tax subsidy in US history–$8.7 billion through 2040–to Boeing.  Boeing is the country’s 30th largest company, with revenue of $81.7 billion and profit of $3.9 billion last year.  CEO Jim McNerney made $27.5 million in 2012, a 20% raise from his previous salary.

Despite this apparent success, Boeing has been asking more from Washington state officials while offering less in return over the last few decades.  In 2001 Boeing moved its headquarters from Seattle, where the company was founded in 1910, to Chicago.  Two years later Washington taxpayers gave Boeing $3.2 billion, the third largest state tax subsidy in US history, so they would build the 787 Dreamliner there.  Yet in 2009, Boeing decided to set-up a second assembly line for 787 in South Carolina.  Just this past May, Boeing announced it would be cutting 1,500 IT jobs in Washington.

The latest deal was passed by legislators in a special session last week and signed by Governor Jay Inslee on Monday. Boeing will get billions to manufacture the new 777X in Washington. State Rep. Reuven Carlyle called the latest deal an “authentic marriage” between Boeing and Washington.  Maybe he’s trying to set another record–for the largest dowry paid in US history–but it sounds like a pretty one-sided relationship to me.  So how does Boeing continue to earn the rapture of Washington State officials?

Continue reading For richer, for poorer: the revolving door between Boeing and Washington State