Journalism in the Public Interest

In Key Senate Job, Ex-Lockheed Exec Replaced by Ex-Lockheed Lobbyist

As military contractors fight budget cuts, they get a friendly face on the Senate Armed Services Committee.


Senate Armed Service Committee minority staff director John Bonsell (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Franklin R. Ramos/Released)

Last year, we told you about how former Lockheed Martin executive Ann Sauer had been hired to be the top Republican staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sauer got $1.6 million from Lockheed, including a buyout, before being hired by Sen. John McCain to come back to Capitol Hill, where she had previously worked as a staffer. Watchdogs cried foul.

With McCain stepping down as ranking member of the committee, Sauer left the job on the Armed Services Committee earlier this year and now works as a federal budget expert for hire.

Her replacement? Another former Hill staffer who went to work with large military contractors — including Lockheed.  

John Bonsell, the new staff director for the Republicans on the committee, spent five years as a lobbyist for military contractors such as Boeing, GE Aviation, BAE Systems, and SAIC. He made $276,400 in 2011, his final year as a lobbyist, a disclosure form shows. Bonsell did not respond to our requests for comment.

Bonsell takes the Armed Services Committee job at an especially fraught time for military contractors: the industry has been fighting — so far unsuccessfully — budget cuts that kicked in under sequestration last month.

Before working as a lobbyist, Bonsell had a two-decade career in the Army including a stint as chief of concepts and doctrine on the Army staff at the Pentagon. After that, he became a legislative assistant to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., in 2001.

In 2007, he joined Robison International, a lobby shop focusing on military issues that is led by a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs named Randall West.

After five years as a lobbyist, Bonsell rejoined Inhofe’s staff in 2012 as legislative director. Earlier this year, when Inhofe took over from McCain as ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, he hired Bonsell to be staff director.

Asked if Bonsell’s previous role as a lobbyist for industry players presents any conflict, Inhofe spokeswoman Donelle Harder said the senator views that work as a plus.

“Due to his 20 plus years of service in the U.S. Army and his post-retirement career, Sen. Inhofe finds John Bonsell uniquely qualified to understand the perspective of both the government and the private sector as the committee works to address unprecedented challenges with the future of our national defense,” she wrote in an email.  

Inhofe has said that his top priority is to avoid military budget cuts.

And these people draw salaries that we pay (pensions, too, I wonder?), and somehow are not subject to sequestration, eh?

Incidentally, Mike Rogers, the Representative who sponsored the revived CISPA in the House, happens to be married to one of the bill’s key lobbyists (Kristi Clemens Rogers).  Kristi also happens to have been recently employed by a high-end cybersecurity company that had a habit of landing billion-dollar State Department contracts.

Small world, right?

criminals of business seem to flock to the republican party for their favors and paychecks sadly the country is run by conservative thievery

Mike Rogers is also the SOB Representative who brought us the Patriot Act, and sadly my districts representative. Clearly by his actions not mine.  We have tried to get rid of him, but we have too many brain dead conservative troglodites in the district.

Shucks its had the word “Patriot”, how bad can it be.  This former FBI guy sponsores a bill to effectively dissolve the Fourth Amendment.  I have written him numerous time only to receive, at times, what turns out to be outright lies.  Such as; we will never use the Patriot Act for “data fishing expeditions”, only to be followed by the Washington State librarian indicating just that.

We keep trying to remove him but obviously remain unsuccessful.

Thanks for the info on Kristi Rogers.

Political corruption - what bad can happen?  Just ask the Romans.

Anne Marie & Charles Martinez

April 24, 2013, 3:58 p.m.

Conflicts of interest seem to be a standard of success in the Republican party.  Lockheed Martin is asking the State of Maryland for tax subsidy!!!!!!!!!!!!!  As a Marylander, I am “trusting” Lockheed Martin will get zero from the taxpayers of Maryland.  Especially in Montgomery County, Maryland.  If a large corporation cannot get by without government subsidies, how can anyone expect the little guy to continue to pay and pay and pay.

Dina J Padilla

April 24, 2013, 4:05 p.m.

This Lockheed article IS precisely what is wrong with our country with nor real representation for the people. Corporations own our country lock stock and barrel and we the people are not only unrepresented but the victims of corporation rule for profit for and to harm us. This is vile and how can anyone trust our govt with more than just conflicts, this is immoral on its face and .we are really no different than a banana republic country full of fraud and corruption,

Have they no shame!  I guess not.

Anybody catch Jon Stewart last night!  A piece about the U.S. Congress and gun control.

Contrast between Australia, which has successfully implemented it—and the U.S. w****e-house known as Congress, which loves guns more than it loves innocent children.

Find this segment and hear the differing responses to the question “what is your major job/duty”

from interviews of the Austalian legislator (who lost his seat for advocating gun control) and the Australian prime minister who supported him .Both said the prime responsibility was serving the people


The U.S. Member of Congress who said the most important thing was"getting re-elected”.


There is too much mention of Republican corruption. There is plenty of blame to go around for both parties. Our government is merely a pawn of corporate interests and until the money is taken out of the political system, and the revolving door from government to corporate lobbying is banned, we will never have representation, nor democracy.
About 15 years ago I asked a good friend from Mexico about there being so much corruption in their government, he laughed and said, “the only difference between my country and your’s is, in my country the corruption is in the open, in your country it is behind closed doors”. Although I believed his assertion at that time, today the corruption in our government is no different than in Mexico, disgustingly out in the open, politicians of both parties are sold to the highest bidder.

I’m concerned with the potential for Fascism in the US… the takeover of our government by private power.

In large measure, Corporate America runs the federal government by controlling Congress through lobbying, campaign contributions, and the ‘revolving door’.

The deregulation of the economy started primarily in the eighties/nineties (Clinton and Bush), especially with the repeal of the Glass/Steagal act and most of our usury laws. Subsequent fraud and abuse by the mortgage and financial services industries led to the near destruction of our economy. This was followed by the mega-trillion dollar bankster bailouts and mega-millions in bonuses for the Wall Street traders and thieves. And the current modified Wall Street rules have not changed the way the game is played. So, why does ‘Joe the plumber’ sometimes vote Republican, and against his best interests?

I think a big part of the reason is that many power-brokers in the Rep party use social/cultural issues…abortion/gay marriage/immigration/illegals/declining public moral standards/welfare Moms/fear of street crime/Muslims/terrorists, etc, to work up anger/indignation/paranoia… Yes, some of these social issue are concerning, no question, but to scapegoat easy targets and miss the 800 pound elephant in the room…private corporate power and control of our nation and our lives, is a fatal error.

It’s amazing that millions of Americans actually believe that it matters whether Romney or Obama got elected. The 1% control the country, and the 99% had just as well own up to it. Nothing much is going to change because of the ballot box.

The corporate fox runs the American hen house, with Socialism for the rich and major corporations, and ‘f***-you libertarian capitalism’ for the rest of us. When there is no corporate cop on the beat, human nature/greed takes over…with the resulting disaster we are living through.

The US is ruled by a private oligarchy. The government is merely their front. The country’s resources are diverted to the pockets of Wall Street and the military/security complex. The oil, mining, timber, and agribusiness companies control the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forestry Service, which is why regulations only get enforced on the small individual/business owner who can’t afford to fight back, while fracking, mountaintop removal mining, and pollution of air, water, and soil run wild.

But don’t worry about it. Just hit the couch with your fritos and ‘reality’ TV, MLB, and the NFL…our modern ‘bread & circuses’. And be sure to see the video of the latest terrorism in Boston, or was it the last drone strike?

Well said to all above. I’m going to follow this post and comments as this is a topic of great interest to me.

The revolving door is not just a Republican issue. Its pervasive in both parties. 

The revolving door opened to staffers should be closed. This revolving door should be closed for Congressional representatives as well.

Many staffers open their own lobbying firms.

There should be at least a 3 year rule in place that would prevent this practice.

New clone, expecting different results from the same thinking : Einstein called this insanity

Bill V.,
My discussion was concerrning my Districts representative, which for me, means I have other choice than to speak of a republicans political corruption. I’ll agree both parties have issues, but republicans seem to provide such rich and diverse material.

As DF V. suggests, we are drifting far to close to fascism side of the spectrum.  This article and my district representatives actions seem to be a lot closer to fascism than socialism; the scurge of the tea party’ers and conservatives. Socialism seems a lot less painfull than fascism.  I’ll pass on the heartless corporate overlord.

DF Wallace - basically you’re right, Our Corporate Masters are, indeed, our masters.

I have to differ slightly, however, on your point, quoted here:

“It’s amazing that millions of Americans actually believe that it matters whether Romney or Obama got elected. The 1% control the country, and the 99% had just as well own up to it. Nothing much is going to change because of the ballot box.”

OK, I’m as underwhelmed as most thinking people are by how Obama has turned out.  No tiene cojones, por nada!

However, had any of the nut cases on the other side made it into the (titular) seat of power, the fate of women might have been much, much worse in terms of control over their own bodies.

Remember, too, that one of the few things a President can still get done is to nominate Supreme Court “Justices”  (chuckle).  Obama has at least put in two human beings.  If a kind fate removes, one way or the other,  the old and young Neanderthals still holding the balance, Obama will have the chance to appoint Justices who will influence our destiny for the next many years.

My mention of too much discussion about Republicans was merely being polite. There is the same issues with both parties, but I agree the Repubs have proven themselves to be reprehensible, and the Dems slightly less reprehensible. While the gun nuts cling to their guns, women are forced to defend themselves from vaginal probes, and after 200 years we still cannot figure out the difference between church and state, our government is being taken over by elected crooks and corporate thieves. Agreed, today’s corporatism and fascism, synonymous.

Who thinks only Republicans are guilty of this? Time to wake up and smell the cronyism. It took both parties to get us where we are today.

Anne Marie Martinez

April 25, 2013, 12:57 p.m.

Back to the article….its about Republicans - its about an open door to Republican staff and lobbyists.  President Obama is a democrat.  Its the Republicans that are holding up all of the great legislation we all need.
The Speaker of the House refuses to give an inch…even though President Obama has given more than his party would have him to.

Lets get the focus back on the article

THIS article is about Republicans. You could write a dozen articles about this type of cronyism from both parties with a minimum of research. Just look at Liz Fowler, the “architect of Obamacare.” (

Both parties are corrupt and rotten to the core.

Incidentally (hey, why not stoke the fire, right?), it’s worth mentioning on the “corporate takeover” front that there are a lot of cases where the corporations already govern us in distasteful ways.

Your insurance company can discriminate against you (price-wise, especially) based on race or gender.  Your ISP is allowed to control what you can and can’t read.  Google, Apple, Facebook, and others work to compile dossiers on each of us that would make even the Stasi swoon.  Even if Mike Bloomberg doesn’t get his way of having a steadycam on every street corner in the country making sure you’re not drinking too much sugary soda (unless you bought it in a deli, I mean), there’s still a security camera on every building watching you.

Maybe we’re looking at this from the wrong angle.  As long as companies are willing to govern us, maybe we should be demanding Constitutional protections from them.  Especially if something like CISPA passes, they are essentially deputies of the Federal government, and presumably then obliged to us in the same way.  If they want to govern us, well, we have laws in this country as to the governments’ responsibilities.

Anne, I think you’re making the assumption that Obama is being honest in his intentions.  As I mentioned recently elsewhere, he’s stated that he’s trying to close the prison at Guantanamo.  Yet it’s a military prison, and he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, so it’s his sole responsibility.

He also talked about protecting whistleblowers while keeping Bradley Manning in custody with no charges for nearly two years (of a four-month maximum, by law).

Recall that he also campaigned on no more of this very “revolving door” between lobbyists, executives, and politics, then immediately appointed lobbyists to his Cabinet.

The President talks a good game, but I don’t think he’s compromising on much at all.

That’s not to say anybody else would have been different.  In fact, it’s specifically to say that anybody else would be exactly the same.  Nobody raises enough funds to run for President by threatening the people in power, just like nobody gets a job by threatening to fire the interviewer.

The headline of this article reads like populist propaganda.

Here is my reasoning.

The title reads like Lockheed intentionally placed their people to influence policy.

The replacement for the key staffing position worked for a firm (Robison) that serviced 4 other large government contractors (BAE, Boeing, GE and SAIC), all of which are equally as ‘evil’ as Lockheed, for 5 years until 2012.

He then worked on legislation. The connection between Lockheed placing consecutive people to influence policy is nonexistent.

The DoD uses contractors. Why would they not want someone who has worked with 5 of the biggest, as a third party consultant to each, and with a passing familiarity with legislation, as a staffer advising them on the industry?

I don’t necessarily agree with the bloated salary numbers involved, but the boogeyman contractor BS is over the top.

Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking skills are great things.

Justin (the author), I don’t think your title conveys proper context and is a reach. Titleing the piece that way is similar to what Yahoo does to generate clicks. You dilute the quality of the site using that technique.


Are you just naive, not very bright, or on the payroll of one of our defense contractors?

“The connection between Lockheed placing consecutive people to influence policy is nonexistent.”  You’re funny.

“Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking skills are great things.”
Congrats on the quasi-sarcasm. I’m underwhelmed.

Through lobbying, campaign contributions, and the ‘revolving door’, private corporate power runs this country.

The corporate fox controls the American hen house, with Socialism for the rich and major corporations, and ‘f***-you libertarian capitalism’ for the rest of us. The move to deregulation that primarily started @ 30 years ago with our movie-star President, turned large corporations loose to basically do what they wanted in our economy. When there is no corporate cop on the beat, human nature/greed takes over…with the resulting disaster we are living through.

But of course, you libertarian butt-boys for our corporate thugs wouldn’t possibly admit that, now would you?

DF Wallace

I don’t understand the personal attacks.

“The connection between Lockheed placing consecutive people to influence policy is nonexistent.”  You’re funny.

Your first quote of my words, and I assume this next line, yours,
Through lobbying, campaign contributions, and the ‘revolving door’, private corporate power runs this country.

Is in regards to that first quote of mine. Those two statements are not incompatible. I don’t disagree with you.

The point of my post was that Lockheed, the individual company, did not choreograph, nor control the selection of the person. The person worked at a 3rd party firm (Robison) and only had a connection to Lockheed through that company.

The title is written to lead the reader to believe Lockheed was the sole entity. It was not. Robison is the entity, and it serviced a who’s who of what you are calling corporate foxes. My post at no point disputed the incestuous business relationships of lobbyists and defense contractors.

I flatly stated the government uses contractors. Not using them is a totally different subject. Having a writer manipulate the title of a piece to generate clicks, similar to how Yahoo and other crap news outlets do, is what I was responding to.

I agree with you that with the move to deregulation there should have also been ownership of the risks of a free market, and there has not been.

I still don’t get the insistence on personal insults.

My underwhelming quasi sarcasm still stands as a relevant response, despite your personal attacks.

Thanks and have a great week!

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