The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation is out with some interesting new information about a relatively little-known but popular practice: big corporations and unions giving large sums of money to charitable activities favored by congressmembers, senators, and other high-ranking federal officials. One local example, according to Sunlight’s database: in April 2009, North County GOP congressman Darrell Issa was honored by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. in the amount of $33,333 in support of the Arab American National Museum (Issa is Lebanese-American). The same year, Fluor Corporation, which does a lot of business in the Middle East, gave the American Studies Center $625 in Issa’s honor.
Democratic congressman Bob Filner, now running for mayor, was honored by $1600 from Southwest Airlines last year in sponsorship of the annual dinner of Access to Independence of San Diego; he also was honored by a variety of other small donations adding up to $2776. And last year and the year before, Republican and Marine veteran Duncan Hunter was paid tribute to by D.C. lobbyists Van Scoyoc Associates, which kicked in a total of $6667 to the Armed Forces Foundation.
For its part, Science Applications International, the big defense consultant founded in La Jolla, last year gave a total of $293,500 to a variety of causes favored by powerful officials, including $50,000 to the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor on behalf of Democratic senator Daniel Inouye; $25,000 to the Center for Security Policy, in honor of Marine Corps commandant James Conway; $100,000 to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, at the behest of then–Democratic congressman Ike Skelton; $10,000 to the National Defense University Foundation, in honor of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; and a total of $10,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, on behalf of Democratic congresswoman Yvette Clarke. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute picked up $7500 in the name of Democratic congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.
Editor's Note: The Sunlight Foundation's information regarding Congresswoman Susan Davis in an earlier version of this story was incorrect and has been deleted. The actual honoree was Susan A. Davis of Susan Davis International.