When I heard of an aerospace company leaving the state of California, the conservative in me did back flips. When upon further investigation I found that the reason for the move was to please US Senators who control the appropriations of government contracts, the libertarian in me wanted to throw up.

Aerojet-Rocketdyne just left Sacramento, a site it has been at since the 1950s. This eliminated 1,000 jobs, 800 of which will be moved to Huntsville, Alabama.

In a statement for AL.com, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “North Alabama remains the nation’s epicenter for aerospace and defense research, development and production.” While it’s true that the Alabama business climate is superior to that of California, this was certainly not the reason for the big move – opportunism was. The company’s campaign contributions tell the story.

Per the Center for Responsive Politics, Cochran and Shelby have received thousands of dollars in donations from Aerojet. Why would a company headquartered in southern California give such largesse to two senators from Dixie? This smacks of Hazard County politics.

Congress is currently working through the appropriations process, and both Sens. Cochran (R-MS) and Shelby (R-AL) conveniently sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee, with Sen. Cochran being the chairman.

This puts Cochran and Shelby in the powerful position as mentioned Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of Appropriations made by law.” Since these two men can help steer taxpayer dollars in any direction they wish, Aerojet strategically moved into one of their constituencies.

Both parties benefit from the opaque nature of the budget process in the halls of Congress. As John Forney, former 19th century clerk of the House of Representatives, once said: “no problem of modern civilization is so vexed as that of government or in securing good leaders.”

Republicans successfully eliminated earmarks several years ago, and there have been rumblings about bringing them back. Yet even with the ban in place, there is no accountability or disclosure in the appropriations process. Now, the only tool the taxpayer has is diligent research by watchdog groups and individuals with time to follow the money.

We the people are essentially the regulating force in politics. We cannot and will not let politicians play with our hard-earned tax dollars for political purposes.

Aerojet, you cannot fool the American people. Throughout the appropriations process, we will be voicing our and demanding the best quality rockets, not ones that were made in appropriators’ home states by their campaign donors.

Phil Kiver is an Army Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan, a current doctoral candidate in Strategic Studies at Henley-Putnam University and a freelance journalist.


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  1. Harry Irl NIMON

    This also places the firm in direct contact with Redstone Arsenal and the US Army Materiel Command located there. This is the center for all missile and Army Space research.