Stories From Washington’s Revolving Door

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Gen. James Cartwright

Gen. James Cartwright looks on at left as President Barack Obama speaks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Defense Department

The good government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington recently took a look at the post-retirement plans for the 108 three- and four-star generals and admirals who left the military between 2009 and 2011. They found that 76 (about 70 percent) took jobs with defense contractors, companies selling products and services to their former colleagues. The top five contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — hired at least nine of these former generals and admirals. In 2011, these same five companies received $113 billion through government contracts. One retired general highlighted in the report, General James Cartwright, was appointed to the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises defense department officials with “independent, informed advice and opinion concerning matters of defense policy.” Cartwright was also on Raytheon’s board of directors — receiving $85,000 and $1,500 for each meeting he attended.

Of course, the door swings both ways. Another study found that defense firms see a notable bump in the price of their stock when one of their employees takes a job at the Pentagon: “According to the results,” the economists write, “investors clearly expect firms to profit from their political connections.”

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