Drone makers and their friends in Washington

Air Force

Unmanned Systems Caucus draws in lobbying bucks.

The Unmanned Systems Caucus – a Congressional network dedicated to the promotion of drones – is drawing in big lobbying bucks, KPBS reports.

The caucus is chaired by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who also chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Its 58 drone caucus members received a total of $2.3 million in contributions from political action committees affiliated with drone manufacturers since 2011, according to data obtained by KPBS from First Street Research Group, a Washington-based company.

Twenty-one members of the drone caucus are from border states, the report notes. These members collected around $1 million in campaign contributions from large aerospace contracts during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, according to campaign finance data collected by the think-tank Center for Responsive Politics.

The top five donors to the drone caucus members from border states from 2010 to 2012 were Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and General Dynamics, the report states.

The caucus includes eight members of the House Committee on Appropriations. The committee in May pushed to maintain $278 million in funding for Global Hawk Block 30 drones, which the Pentagon had originally purged in its 2013 budget request, according to a statement.