The Money Trail: Defense Firms 'Honor' Jim Moran

BAE's charitable contribution to the Marshall Legacy Institute was among the largest by any company last year that was disclosed as one of those honoring a House member.

Defense contractors have rejected the notion that the gifts were intended to curry favor with key officials. Scott Fazekas , director of media Relations for BAE Systems said the donation was made to help the Marshall Legacy Institute continue its efforts in clearing land mine, explosives the company has stopped producing. He noted the company has contributed to the charity a number of times over the past several years.

BAE Systems has deep ties to Moran both on Capitol Hill and in his district, where it has an office. (In May 2009, Moran leaped to the company's defense when an experiment at BAE System's offices in Alexandria apparently went awry, unleashing a sound blast that shook the building, rattled windows and caused ceiling tiles to fall at a neighboring child learning center.)

Fazekas said that the October gala, for which BAE Systems served as a "Platinum Sponsor," honored four others in addition to Moran for their efforts to help get the world's deadly minefields cleared. He also noted that ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos served as the master of ceremonies.

Moran's spokeswoman said if the donation was intended to curry favor with the congressman, his remarks at the event offer proof that it didn't work.

"In his speech, the Congressman offered a tough critique of defense companies that profit from the production of landmines, but then turn around and participate in feel-good public events focused on cleaning up the mess they make," Blout said.

Some defense firms, though not BAE Systems, donated to the Marshall Legacy Institute the previous year, when the gala honoree was the late Rep. John Murtha, the powerful Pennsylvania Democrat who oversaw the military spending committee.

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