Northrop Grumman boosts lobbying

Defense firm Northrop Grumman nearly doubled its spending on lobbying in the fourth quarter to more than $7 million, according to new lobbying disclosure documents.

Northrop boosted its lobbying to $7.4 million the last three months of the year, up from $3.8 million in the third quarter.

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Northrop’s $7 million lobbying push puts it far ahead of other top defense firms in the fourth quarter.

Besides Northrop, which filed its disclosure form Tuesday evening, defense lobbying stayed mostly flat in 2013. Lockheed Martin and Boeing both spent slightly less on lobbying last year than in 2012, with dips of $1.4 million and $410,000 each.

Northrop spent $20.4 million on lobbying in all of 2013, an increase of nearly $3 million from 2012.

The defense firm did not say why it increased its lobbying to $7.4 million in the fourth quarter. Northrop lists the same issues that it is lobbying for in its fourth quarter disclosure forms as it does in the third quarter document, and the same number of lobbyists.

Northrop also paid roughly the same amount to outside lobbying firms in the fourth quarter, as the $360,000 that went to other outside lobbyists was just $10,000 more than in the third quarter.   

Northrop's lobbyists might have been working overtime in the last three months of the year, however, when Congress passed the Defense authorization bill and struck the budget deal that set spending levels for the federal government for 2014.

The defense firm has been fighting for more that two years to keep its RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones flying.

The Pentagon proposed retiring the drone variant in its 2013 budget and replacing it with manned U-2 aircraft. But Congress blocked the Pentagon from doing so in the 2013 Defense bills — and did so again with the 2014 Defense authorization and appropriations measures.

The congressional handcuffing might wind up paying big dividends for Northrop: Aviation Week reported that the Pentagon is considering gutting funding for Lockheed's U-2 and shifting more than $3 billion into the Global Hawk account in its 2015 budget proposal.

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