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Defense Contractors Give Big Bucks To Charities Tied To Dicks

The Seattle Times reports (hat tip that defense contractors gave $478,000 to charities favored by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), a senior member of the Defense subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee.

"Boeing gave $10,000 earlier this year to one of Congressman Norm Dicks' favorite charities, the National Guard Youth Foundation," the Seattle Times Bob Young reported last week.

"So did Boeing's archrival, EADS, the parent company of Airbus.

But that's small change compared to another defense contractor, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which gave $100,000 to the youth foundation's gala dinner in February honoring Dicks, a Bremerton Democrat, for his staunch support of the charity.

TriWest followed that up with a $50,000 contribution to another charity event hosted by Dicks and four other members of the powerful defense-appropriations subcommittee that doled out $459 billion in contracts this year."

Young added: "Dicks far and away leads members of the Washington state delegation in being named in these contributions. In the first six months of 2008, he was reported as honoree — almost always with several other members of Congress — in charitable contributions totaling $478,000.

The vast share of donations linked to Dicks come from three events: the youth-foundation dinner honoring Dicks and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., for their advocacy; the Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala hosted by Dicks and four other congressmen; and the Prevent Cancer Foundation's Spring Gala chaired by Dicks and three other members of Congress and their spouses."

The donations were revealed as part of new lobbyist disclosure reporting requirements, which require disclosure of such gifts.

Dicks said he has never been lobbied at any charity events, and the donations are completely legal, but it's clear that the companies involved se these donations as another way to build relationships with key lawmakers like the Washington State Democrat. Dicks is the second most senior Democrat on the Defense subcommittee, which oversees almost $500 billion annually in defense spending.

"I've never been lobbied at events I've attended that I can recall. At most they say ;Can we come up to (your office) to talk to you?' he said," according to the Seattle Times.

The House ethics committee is investigating Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, over the use of his office in raising millions of dollars for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. Rangel reportedly helped defend a tax loophole benefitting a $1 million donor to the Rangel Center, a charge Rangel has vehemently denied.

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