Aerospace manufacturer Boeing turned one hundred on July 15th, but even a century into its existence Boeing is still finding ways to set company records. In the first six months of 2016, Boeing’s political action committee (PAC) gave a combined $450,000 to the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations (DGA and RGA). That’s more than three times what the company gave in any previous year and more than it gave to the two groups over the last three years put together.
The all-time high is mostly driven by Boeing PAC’s giving to the Democratic governors group. Boeing PAC has slowly upped its contributions to the DGA over recent years, from $25,000 in 2013 to $50,000 in 2014, and then $75,000 last year. This year, however, Boeing PAC has already given $300,000, including a single $250,000 contribution on June 27th.
Boeing PAC has followed a similar pattern with the RGA. It gave $25,000 in 2013, then bumped up to $50,000 contributions in 2014 and 2015. So far this year, the PAC has already given $150,000. As with the DGA, that includes a single major contribution, $100,000, in late-June.
Boeing PAC also recently increased its contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, going from $50,000 in both 2014 and 2015 to $100,000 so far this year. The PAC’s contributions this year to other major state-spending groups, however, has been more consistent with past years. It gave $25,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, just like the last two years, and gave $22,000 to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a little bit less than the $25,000 it gave in 2014.
It’s unclear exactly why Boeing has increased its payments to these groups, but by making larger contributions to organizations like the DGA and RGA the company is offered increased access to lawmakers and their aides. Boeing PAC has been clear in the past that its giving reflects the corporation’s policy needs: last year the PAC cut support to eighteen congressional Republicans opposed to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which Boeing relies on for low-interest loans.
One of the things for which the company relies on governors is tax breaks in the states where it manufactures. In Washington state, for instance, tax breaks have saved the company more than half a billion dollars over the past two years. But those breaks have come under greater scrutiny as the company has shed jobs from the state, causing Governor Jay Inslee (D) to say they will be reconsidered next year. When Boeing opened a manufacturing facility in Oklahoma in mid-July, Governor Mary Fallin (R) attributed her state’s victory in attracting the manufacturing giant to the aerospace tax credit she fought to keep.
The big jump in giving to the governors groups doesn’t look like it is part of an all-around influence push. At the federal level, Boeing PAC’s campaign contributions and Boeing’s lobbying spending are both roughly on par with prior years. The aerospace juggernaut’s spending this year seems geared towards getting in good with the nation’s governors, suggesting the laboratories of democracy are the places where the company is focusing its influence efforts.