On Wednesday, the House voted 217 to 205 not to defund the controversial NSA surveillance programs. It turns out that the lawmakers who voted no on the Amash amendment, and wanted to keep the government program fully funded, received twice as much in campaign financing from the intelligence and defense industry as the 205 “yes” voters. An investigation performed at the request of WIRED found out on Friday that House members who voted to continue the phone-call-metadata program by the NSA received an average of 122 percent more money from defense contractors than those who voted to defund it.
Political action committees and employees from intelligence and defense firms, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others, donated almost $13 million in donations during a single two-year period ending a few months ago. House members didn’t vote along party lines when they voted for the Amash amendment, but they did vote along donation lines. Representatives who voted to continue the NSA program averaged $41,635 in donations from the defense and intelligence firms while lawmakers who voted to dismantle the NSA spy program averaged $18,765 from those same firms.
Of the Representatives who received the most in donations, only one of the top ten, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), voted to end the program. The president and co-founder of MapLight, the Berkeley-based non-profit that conducted the analysis, Daniel G. Newman, asked, “How can we trust legislators to vote in the public interest when they are dependent on industry campaign funding to get elected? Our broken money and politics system forces lawmakers into a conflict of interest between lawmakers’ voters and their donors.”
Rep. Justin Amash proposed the Amash amendment that would have stopped the NSA’s spy program by defunding it. Amash received $1,400 in donations from defense and intelligence firms while Rep. Howard McKeon, who voted against Amash, received $526,600 in donations from the same firms. House Speaker John Boehner received $131,000 in donations from them, and voted against the amendment. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also voted against the Amash amendment. She claimed $47,000 from the defense and intelligence firms. 94 Republicans voted for the amendment along with 111 Democrats.
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