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That’s the implication of a recent investigation by open-government advocates at Republic Report.It all has to do with a well-timed bonus to Thomas MacKenzie as he walked out the door.
The watchdogs point out ethics disclosure forms that show that MacKenzie, who is a policy staff member on the House Armed Services Committee, received a $498,334 severance bonus from Northrop Grumman.
Just before leaving his post to serve on the House committee.
Some things don’t add up.
The thing is, MacKenzie’s salary and bonus from the entire year before was $529,379. And the fact that he would be uniquely poised as a Committee staffer makes the entire transaction somewhat suspicious.
See, MacKenzie has a lot of experience in Washington.
MacKenzie worked as a lobbyist for Northrop after leaving the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2006. When the Republicans won the House in 2010, as customary they hired a new crew of staff members for the House committees.
But, his move from Northrop to the Capitol comes with a big pay cut.
MacKenzie was tapped as a policy staff member, and left his job lobbying for Northrop Grumman to work there — but in his role as a staffer role, he only makes around $130,000 per year.
Here’s the gist of the allegations.
The suggestion made by Republic Report is that the generous bonus was intended to ensure that, as a congressional staffer intimately connected with the legislative and policy development processes, MacKenzie would remember Northrop Grumman fondly.
Given that he received essentially four years’ congressional salary in a single check from Northrop Grumman, it’s difficult to imagine that wouldn’t be the case.
As a lobbyist for Northrop Grumman, he promoted dozens of Northrop Grumman weapon systems to congressional representatives and committee staffers in the interest of winning funding for Northrop tech in appropriations bills.
Northrop has remained mum about the situation.
It’s unclear what exactly happened, and it’s unlikely that anyone will provide an answer.
Still, it’s an interesting glimpse into one of the strategies that companies may be using to foster positive relationships with legislators.
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