Senator Warren, Representative Kim Reintroduce Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act
Legislation to Limit Contractor Influence and Constrain Foreign Influence on Retired Senior Military Officers
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, and Representative Andy Kim (D-N.J.) Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel, introduced the Department of Defense (DoD) Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act to limit the influence of contractors on the military, constrain foreign influence on retired senior military officers, and assert greater transparency over contractors and their interaction with DoD. Senator Warren originally introduced this legislation in 2019 alongside former Representative Jackie Spier (D-Calif.) who also served as Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and again in 2021.
“When former senior military officials are willing to sell their credentials to the highest bidder, our national security is put at risk,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m renewing the push with Representative Kim to pass legislation that will root out corruption, rein in foreign influence, and ensure greater transparency over defense contractors and their interactions with DoD.”
“Too many Americans have lost faith in their government because they feel it isn’t working for them. Instead, people feel like there’s too much outside influence. With this bill, we can help change that,” said Representative Andy Kim. “The Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would limit the influence of military contractors, limit foreign influence on senior military officials, and require much more transparency from contractors around their lobbying activities. These are simple steps we can take to win back Americans’ trust, and I hope my colleagues in both chambers support this important legislation.”
There has long been a comfortable relationship between DoD and an increasingly powerful group of defense contractors that reap huge profits from hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts. The appearance and the reality of the Pentagon being captured by the defense industry undermines our public confidence and threatens our national security.
Specifically, the Department of Defense (DoD) Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would:
Close the Revolving Door and Restrict Contractor Influence.
- Limits the revolving door between senior DoD officials and industry by imposing a 4-year ban on giant contractors hiring senior DoD officials and on contractors hiring former DoD employees who managed their contract.
- Extends to 4 years the existing prohibition on former military generals lobbying the DoD and expands the restrictions to other senior officials.
- Requires defense contractors to submit detailed annual reports to DoD regarding former senior DoD officials who are subsequently employed by contractors and requires DoD to make those reports public.
- Raises the recusal standard for DoD employees by prohibiting them from participating in any matter that might affect the financial interests of their former employer or direct competitor for 4 years.
- Bans senior DoD officials from owning any stock in a major defense contractor that receives more than $100 million in revenue from DoD contracts.
Limit Foreign Influence.
- Prohibits senior national security officials from working on behalf of foreign governments.
- Prohibits military and civilian intelligence personnel from working on behalf of foreign governments or private entity that operates predominantly on behalf of a foreign government.
Ensure Contractor Transparency.
- Requires large defense contractors to submit a report of their lobbying activities, including who they’re meeting with, what they’re lobbying about, and what (unclassified) information they’re sharing.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to publish online copies of unclassified DoD contracts. If contracts are worth more than $10 million, any relevant and available performance history of the contractor will be included.
- Requires publication of contractor evaluation ratings.
- Requires the military services to maintain public websites with the names, biographies, and any associated financial disclosures, as well as DoD Inspector General reports and command climate surveys, regarding all active and reserve component senior military officers.
Senator Warren has been a leader on the corrupting influence of the revolving door between senior national security officials and foreign governments:
- In April 2023, Senators Warren and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, raising concerns over retired military officers working for foreign governments
- In March 2023, Senator Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent letters to eight federal Inspectors General (IGs) across the executive branch, urging them to review their agencies’ ethics policies and conflict of interest rules.
- In December 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) sent letters to five Beltway consulting firms requesting information about their work for and on behalf of foreign governments following reporting by the Washington Post revealing that, more than 500 retired U.S. military personal – including scores of generals and admirals” have taken jobs with foreign governments.
- In November 2022, Senators Warren and Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III raising concerns about the Defense Department (DoD)’s frequent approval of high-ranking retired military members’ work for foreign governments. The senators’ concerns follow recent investigative reporting by the Washington Post detailing scores of retired U.S. servicemembers who took lucrative jobs with foreign governments.
- On October 3, 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Brookings Institution, seeking answers about how Brooking ensures its funding agreements from foreign governments do not undermine the independence of its research and expressing concerns that the organization is not able to ensure its leaders are avoiding illegal or inappropriate lobbying.
- On July 15, 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Brookings Institution following reports that former Marine Corps General John R. Allen, the former President of the Brookings Institution, is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for making false statements and withholding documents about his role in possible illegal lobbying for the government of Qatar.
- In December 2020, Senator Warren and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal today reintroduced the Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act, to fundamentally change the way Washington does business and restore the American public's faith in democracy, including by creating a new, independent anti-corruption agency dedicated to enforcing federal ethics laws and by expanding an independent and empowered Congressional ethics office insulated from Congressional politics.
- In May 2019, Senator Warren introduced The Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, legislation to limit the influence of contractors on the military, constrain foreign influence on retired senior military officers, and assert greater transparency over contractors and their interaction with DoD.
- On November 29, 2018, Senator Warren sent letters to 23 U.S. lobbying firms regarding past and present contracts for lobbying work for the Saudi government.
- On November 15, 2018, Senator Warren sent a letter to three private consulting firms requesting information about services provided by the three companies to the Saudi government. The senator's letter asks the firms about their relationship with the Saudi government and questions their business with the Kingdom in the wake of its apparently premeditated assassination of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
- In October 2018, Senator Warren sent a letter to McKinsey & Company requesting information about the scope of its consulting services to, or for the benefit of, the Saudi government and requesting that a full, transparent accounting of how McKinsey's work may have enabled the Kingdom to repress critics and commit other human rights abuses.
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