Does BAE Stand for "Bribery and Earmarks?"

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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is raising eyebrows again for pushing an earmark worth $25 million for a company, BAE Systems, long suspected of bribing public officials. Oh and they've steered $53,000 to McConnell's campaign account since 2002.

BAE Systems is a British defense contractor under investigation by the Justice Department for an alleged attempt to win a weapons contract with Saudi Arabia via millions in bribes -- and this is apparently not the first time the company has been suspected of using these tactics. McConnell's involvement with BAE doesn't end with campaign cash:

United Defense Industries, which BAE purchased two years ago, pledged $500,000 to a political-science foundation the senator created, the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.

Melanie Sloan, of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center rap McConnell soundly on the knuckles for pushing this earmark:

"Most politicians decide that a scandal is a good time to stop doing business with a company, at least until the scandal is over," Sloan said. "Particularly when we're talking about a criminal investigation over bribery. You would think that a member of Congress would want to steer clear of anyone accused of bribery."

[. . .]

"Why did they need special favors from Senator McConnell instead of going through the usual open competition and budgeting process at the Pentagon?" Boehm asked.

Nor should McConnell take donations from a company to which he steers federal funds, said Boehm, a former Republican congressional aide.

"Contributions from entities that directly benefit from earmarks are a bad idea," he said. "There's a big difference between a company that just likes your general ideas and a company that stands to benefit from one or more transactions that you're making on their behalf using public money.