When the Pentagon decided in 2009 to cut funding for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor fighter jet — a weapons system with cost overruns in the billions of dollars that has rarely seen combat — the Heritage Foundation fought tooth and nail to restore taxpayer money for the planes.
Heritage depicted its support for the F-22 as a matter of vital national security. But what the public didn’t know is that Lockheed Martin, a corporate donor to the conservative think tank, met with Heritage officials on nearly a monthly basis to discuss the F-22 and other defense industry priorities.
Internal emails leaked online show at least 15 meetings in 2008 and 2009 between officials at Heritage and Lockheed Martin, including one with Bill Inglee, who at the time served as a senior lobbyist at Lockheed Martin.
The emails also suggest that Heritage continued courting Lockheed Martin for donations, listing the company repeatedly in Excel spreadsheets used to collect pledges from past donors. Lockheed Martin gave $40,000 to Heritage in 2008, bringing its total contribution to $341,000, according to those documents.