He said the company’s lobbying involved more than just the tanker but added, “certainly there were elements of the tanker competition that were political in nature.” Both Boeing and EADS engaged in extensive paid advertising as well as outreach to lawmakers and communities affected by the decision.
Boeing has had close ties with Podesta. In 2009 the airplane maker hired David Morrison, then a principal at the Podesta lobbying firm, to be its vice president of government relations. Morrison had previously been Democratic staff director for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
John Shank, also a former Podesta senior strategist, is now a Boeing lobbyist. Prior to working at Podesta, Shank was the lead staff member for the House Republicans on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
According to lobbying disclosure filings, the Podesta team working on the Boeing and United Technologies accounts last year included Podesta as well as John Scofield, a former communications director for the House Appropriations Committee; Paul Brathwaite, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus; and David Marin, former GOP staffer to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The losing defense firms also tapped some high-powered help to sway Congress. Last year EADS hired the boutique firm of Roberts, Raheb & Gradler, whose lobbyists include John Donald, a former staffer for Alabama Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and Republican Rep. Jo Bonner, in whose Mobile district the company planned to assemble the tanker.
EADS and General Electric hired Senators-turned-lobbyists John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) who merged their firm last year with law giant Patton Boggs.
Although they ended up on the losing side, a number of firms working with EADS still collected tidy sums for their efforts. The Livingston Group, headed by former Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.), collected $280,000 last year while Quinn Gillespie & Associates received $360,000 in 2010. The Republican firm Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock, also working for EADS, received $320,000.
While the lobbying on these two contracts may be winding down, defense lobbyist Michael Herson, president of American Defense International Inc., said there will still be ample work for K Street as companies seek to protect big weapons programs in budget-tightening times. Herson’s firm was hired at the beginning of this year by United Technologies Corp.
“Those are two big fights,” he said. “But there are always more fights to fight.”