Lee Fang: Military Contractors Behind New Pressure Group Targeting Presidential Candidates

 A look at the list of people and military manufacturing corporations involved says it all.

Featured photo - Military Contractors Behind New Pressure Group Targeting Presidential Candidates

BY LEE FANG  The Intercept  firstlook.org  May 9, 2015     

(This post is from  [The Intercept’s] new blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers has formed a new pressure group, now active in Iowa and New Hampshire, to serve as the “premiere national security and foreign policy organization during the 2016 debate” and to “help elect a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy.”

Roger’s group, Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, is hosting candidate events and intends to host a candidate forum later this year. The organization does not disclose its donors. But a look at the business executives helping APPS steer presidential candidates towards more hawkish positions reveals that many are defense contractors who stand to gain financially from continued militarism:

  • Advisory Board Member John Coburn is chairman and CEO of VT Systems, a company that delivers communications technology for the Defense Department.
  • Advisory Board Member Stephen Hadley is a principal at the consulting firm RiceHadleyGates and serves as a board member to defense contractor Raytheon, a position that pays him $228,007 in annual compensation.
  • New Hampshire Board Member Rich Ashooh lists his employment as Director, Strategy at BAE Systems.
  • New Hampshire Board Member James Bell is the chief executive of EPE Corporation, a manufacturing company that says it is a “premier supplier to the defense community.”
  • Advisory Board Member John Engler, the president of the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for major corporations, including defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Northrop Grumman.
  • New Hampshire Board Member Ken Solinksy is founder of Insight Technologies, a night vision and electro-optical systems firm acquired by L-3 Communications.
  • New Hampshire Chairman and Advisory Board Member Walt Havenstein is the former chief executive of BAE Systems and SAIC, two of the largest defense contractors in America. Havenstein, who left SAIC in 2012, was paid partially in company stock options.

And blogger Joshua Huminski worked in 2013 as a spokesperson for Aegis Defense Services, a contractor that provided security services to U.S. facilities in Afghanistan. Aegis did not respond to a request asking if Huminski is still employed there.

As we first reported, Rogers may have a conflict of interest as well. Though he announced that he left Congress to pursue a career in talk radio, we found that the former Michigan congressman later admitted taking on jobs in consulting and in private equity. His office has refused to provide more information about those private sector gigs.

Watch a promo video from APPS below:

Rogers told local media that his new group, which plans to be operational in South Carolina soon, will be closely engaged with the candidates, not only through public events, but also through private meetings with the APPS advisory board members. Just before kicking off her presidential campaign, GOP candidate Carly Fiorina appeared at an APPS forum in New Hampshire. In April, APPS-NH chairman Havenstein personally sponsored the First in the Nation kick-off event for the New Hampshire Republican Party.

The Issues portion of the APPS website is devoted to news articles featuring a range of threats to American national security. Explaining the goals of his group to a news outlet in Indiana, Rogers lamented the lack of “surveillance capabilities” and warned of increasing threat of cyber warfare.

Rogers and APPS did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s not unusual for the arms industry to use front groups to press for a more aggressive foreign policy,” says William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

“It sounds a lot more credible when a group called ‘Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security’ calls for a policy shift than if the same argument comes out of the mouth of an arms executive or lobbyist whose livelihood is tied to the spread of tension and conflict,” Hartung said.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

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