Lawmakers Who Received Defense Industry Cash Support NSA Spying

MapLight, a Berkeley-based non-profit, was recently involved in an investigation set out to identify the factors that influenced many House Republicans, which eventually translated into a failure to vote in support of the Amash-Conyers amendment. The investigation demonstrates that defense money, not party affiliation, might have had plenty to do with how members of the House voted on the Amash amendment; more than one would like to think.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was able to cross party lines and combine an impressive number of supporters to support his amendment, which was formulated to keep the NSA from collecting data from innocent Americans. In spite of the productive campaign, Rep. Amash’s amendment failed. Once MapLight researchers took a closer look at the financing data concerning the top defense contractors in the country, they found that House members who voted to continue the controversial NSA spy programs, reportedly received $41,635 each on average from defense and intelligence firms and the $12.97 million these firms gathered within a 2-year period ending December 31, 2012.

The analysis also uncovered that while members who voted against the amendment allegedly received a great amount of campaign cash from major defense contractors, House members who voted in support of the amendment that addresses the NSA’s unscrupulous and yet bold spying programs received a little over $18,700 on average from the same contractors.

According to the official reports, this represents an average of 122 percent more money from the defense industry in the hands of Representatives who were in opposition to the amendment, than to those who were in favor of the Amash amendment. The movement to keep the government from carrying on with the massive phone-call-metadata spy program has initiated a trend that might not be easy to stop and that does not show signs of slowing down.

Changes to the framework of the law that facilitated the creation of the spying programs should be discussed, according to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). Several other lawmakers have been rushing to defend the programs: according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the outrage the NSA programs triggered are due to possible public misgivings concerning the programs exposed by Edward Snowden.

When the public becomes aware of the possible influence the defense industry has exerted over lawmakers, people might begin to reconsider how Washington does business. Unfortunately, most money getters in Congress continue to be tied to the type of voting record that does not mirror what their constituents are looking for, which is the preservation of every American’s right to privacy.

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