Today, Mitt Romney announced a "Military Advisory Council" of retired military officers who support his campaign. “I am deeply honored to have the support of so many of our most accomplished military leaders,” said Romney during the announcement.
While many of those on the Council are clearly decorated veterans, one curious aspect of the list is how many of these military figures left the government only to become highly paid consultants and board members to major weapons makers. Given that Romney wants to increase the military budget by $2 trillion, these military officials who later became part of the defense industry have a monetary incentive to back Romney that has nothing to do with whether they approve of his wider foreign policy philosophy or not.
Here's a list of some members of the Military Advisory Council who are also profiting from the defense industry:
- Retired General James Conway: Conway is a retired four-star general. Last year, he was named to the Board of Directors of Textron, which manufactures helicopters and other aircraft and products for the military.
- Retired Navy Admiral James B. Busey: Busey served in the Navy until 1989. After leaving the federal government in 1992, he joined the Board of Directors of defense contractor Curtiss-Wright and left in 2008.
- Retired former commander of United States Strategic Command James O. Ellis: After serving his country, Ellis decided to make a fortune by working for the defense industry. He serves in the leadership of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and also has a board position at Lockheed Martin.
- Retired Air Force General Ronald Fogleman: Fogleman serves on the boards of Alliant Techsystems, AAR Corporation, Mesa Air Group, Inc., and World Air Holdings.
- Retired General Tommy Franks: Franks, who led the disastrous invasion of Iraq, has his own consultancy called Franks & Associates LLC that specializes in "disaster recovery." He also works for a private firm that pitches itself as able to respond to a viral pandemic.
- Retired Air Force Commander William R. Looney III: Looney actually campaigns on behalf of for-profit colleges that are under fire for abusing military veterans. Those colleges actually are a huge beneficiary of dollars from the Veterans Administration, and thus represent an often under-looked form of defense contractor welfare.
- Retired Navy Admiral Henry Mauz: Mauz is on the Advisory Council of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.
- Retired Navy Vice Admiral Mike Bucchi: Bucchi was named president of homeland security contractor Ocean Systems Engineering Corporation in 2005.
We only looked at a small sampling of the list Romney's campaign provided -- those officers with the highest ranks -- and found numerous conflicts of interest. It appears that Romney assembled a list of former military officials largely composed of those who are now profiting off of the defense industry, and they are excited to see the candidate offer them more money in the form of a $2 trillion spending splurge that the Pentagon hasn't even asked for.