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Big Ammo: Clinton Is Raising Money From Gunpowder Lobbyists and Investors

Clinton’s three direct sources of money from the ammo industry include buyers, lobbyists, and owners

At the Democratic debate on 14 April 2016, Hillary Clinton said that “e need a president who will stand up against the gun lobby.” However, Secretary of State Clinton effectively stood with the gun lobby as she approved millions in revenue for two huge gunpowder mills. Since then she has received payments from numerous ammunition industry stakeholders, including over $160,000 in contributions from her campaign chair’s brother, ammo lobbyist Anthony Podesta.

While Clinton has been connected to the gunmakers that make the assault rifles used in American massacres and an NRA lobbyist, less attention has been paid to her ties to ammunition manufacturers that also play a central role in the gun lobby. In the financial years ending in 2010 and 2011, Secretary Clinton approved sales of ammunition worth upwards of $345 million. The approvals included those for a gunpowder giant that Clinton is especially close to.

The entrance to General Dynamics’ gunpowder mill in Florida


Clinton approved sales for NRA-allied ammunition suppliers. Pentagon reports show that in the two years ending June 2011, Clinton approved more than $144 million in gun and ammunition sales for General Dynamics (GD) as well as $34 million in ammunition sales for GD’s gunpowder client, Winchester. Though GD does not itself sell ammunition directly to the retail market, their St Mark’s Powder mill is a major wholesale supplier of gunpowder for domestic commercial ammo brands like Challenger, Samson, Ramshot, Blazer, Hodgdon and Winchester. General Dynamics gunpowders include formulation 748, “the powder of choice for 223 Remington ammunition.” Remington 223 ammunition is used in AR-15 assault rifles, the type of guns that were used in both the Sandy Hook and San Bernardino massacres. Winchester sells ammunition to American consumers and is a strong supporter of the gun lobby. Winchester has close ties with the National Rifle Association specifically, co-sponsoring a shooting education program with the NRA.

Winchester AR-15-compatible ammunition for sale in boxes of 1000 rounds


Clinton took campaign funds from ammo lobbyists. Since approving the sales, the Clinton campaign has benefited from her ties to General Dynamics through her campaign chair. Campaign chair John Podesta co-founded super-lobbying firm The Podesta Group with brother Anthony Podesta, the Group’s Chairman. One of the Group’s clients is gunpowder giant GD, which have paid the Group over $3.1 million since 2007, including $120,000 in 2015, engaging 15 Podesta Group lobbyists. Anthony Podesta has bundled $166,460 in contributions for the Clinton presidential campaign. In other words, the Clinton campaign has taken money from the lobbying firm of a major gunpowder maker, one that provides powder for commercial ammo sales by NRA allies like Winchester.

Winchester rifle ammo with bullets designed to fragment and spread in the target’s body


Clinton was paid by the ammo companies’ owners. In addition to receiving contributions from a gunpowder lobbyist, Clinton received a variety of payments from the shareholders of gunpowder and ammunition companies. Institutional investors The Vanguard Group and the BlackRock fund hold nearly 6% and nearly 3% of General Dynamics shares respectively. Vanguard and BlackRock also hold over 7% and 6% of shares respectively in the parent company of Winchester. Vanguard has paid Clinton $400,000 in speaking fees, while BlackRock has contributed $22,060 to Clinton’s campaigns since 1999.

Clinton’s Foundation took donations from ammo buyers. Clinton is also connected to the ammunition sales through her friends and donors. Clinton-approved GD customers included the regime of Clinton’s family friend, dictator Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who bought $11 million of GD ammo in the year leading up to the Arab Spring democracy protests. Clinton benefactor the United Arab Emirates bought $44 million of GD grenades and accessories after donating upwards of $1 million to her Foundation.

Clinton with her Foundation donor and ammunition customer HH Sheikh Mohammed of the UAE


Clinton’s ammo ties go beyond General Dynamics. Clinton also approved upwards of $166 million in sales for another ammunition giant, Alliant Techsystems (now Vista Outdoor). Vista Outdoor is an NRA ally, listing the NRA as one of their social responsibility beneficiaries and proclaims their CEO as “a lifetime member of the NRA.” The single largest shareholder of Vista Outdoor is Goldman Sachs, a bank that paid Clinton $675,000 for three speeches. A third ammunition giant that benefited from (non-ammo) weapons sales approvals by Clinton is BAE Systems, a firm that has paid the Podesta Group $3.2 million since 2008. BAE Systems runs the Radford gunpowder mill in Virginia that is “the sole U.S. producer of nitrocellulose, the feedstock for ammunition” and is thus a key part of the gun industry.

Satellite image of Alliant/Vista Outdoor’s mile-long ammunition factory in Missouri


Clinton claims that she is the best candidate to fight the gun lobby. However, her ammunition industry sales approvals and funding sources create multifarious conflicts of interest that place her only three steps away from some of the gun lobby’s richest and strongest allies. Indeed, since General Dynamics and Vista Outdoor make much of the gunpowder used in AR-15 ammunition, Clinton’s finances are only five steps away from mass killers like those responsible for the Sandy Hook and San Bernardino massacres.

Clinton-approved ammunition sales in the years for which reports are available


The numbers for Clinton’s ammunition sales shown above are minimums, since (1) the Pentagon is only required to report to Congress ‘major’ weapons sales valued above $2 million and (2) reports are not available for FY12 and FY13, the last two years that Clinton was Secretary of State. More information about the State department’s key role in global weapons sales is available here and here.

This piece was originally published on https://medium.com/@JeanetteJing/clinton-approved-sales-for-ammunition-giants-then-took-money-from-their-lobbyists-and-investors-375b7f74f0b4#.xdlsd5p77.

Written by Jeanette Jing

One Comment

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  1. what a hypocrite. That is why I cannot vote for this woman, even though I am a loyal democrat. She is not authentic like Seantor Bernie Sanders is.

    Senator Sanders is who I support and who I have been volunteering for, mostly through hubdilaer.

    I have to say, independents for senator Sanders, who NEVER voted before, and they hate President Obama, do not volunteer well with those of us who voted for POTUS.
    What is your problem?
    Did you put, “does not play well with others” on your resume’?

    If he loses, its because he has terrible organizers, made up of a bunch of Obama-haters, kind of like Trump independents. Their common denomiinator is, “they ALL despise President Obama”.
    I learned so much and had the best experience volunteering for President Obam in 2008 & 2012, in 5 states. We all got along, the organization was fabulous and they treated us with repsect at all times.We had housing through “host families” that I used in Miami.

    I was invited after his WIN, to be on numerous conference calls, with First Lady Michelle Obama, and other “OFA” people including David Axelrod. OFA continues to follow the Obama administration message, forevermore.

    I canvassed for Senator Sanders with a cane, because I had back surgery. They did not even offfer me a bottle of water, when they learned I had experience from my time with our lovely leader, they shun you, and do not even invite you back again.

    This is why Senator Sanders campaign did not do as well as his rallies. They choose too many inexperience people, NOT ever associated wtih President Obama, and we at least have all that grassroots experince, they wanted to utilize.

    You want to use the methodology but do not want those who walked the walk to be a part of the journey? That is stupid.
    Have it your way. I love Senator Sanders, but his independent, I-never-voted-before-in-my-life supporters, are a pain in the ass.
    The other half of them are voting for Trump.

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Big Ammo: Clinton Is Raising Money From Gunpowder Lobbyists and Investors