Sanders pushes Pentagon on 'excessive' CEO pay at defense contractors

Sanders pushes Pentagon on 'excessive' CEO pay at defense contractors
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems RealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida MORE (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, on Wednesday demanded that the Pentagon rein in "excessive compensation" for the CEOs of defense contractors.

"What kind of message does it send when a defense contractor is paid 100 times more than the secretary of defense?" Sanders wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis says he'll dispatch Navy hospital ship to help Venezuelan migrants Pentagon, GOP breathe sign of relief after Trump cancels parade Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE

Sanders pointed to compensation for the CEOs of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which amounted to roughly $20 million each. Taxpayer money, he said, accounted for more than 90 percent of those companies’ revenues.

A Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department has already begun some reforms, such as reorganizing the former Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

“I can tell you that one of Secretary Mattis's top three priorities is reforming the way we do business,” the spokesman said. 

Sanders also raised concerns over fraud among defense contractors and cost overruns in the acquisition budget.

Democrats have long complained that defense spending is not subject to the same oversight as nondefense programs. A recent bipartisan budget deal added $80 billion to the defense spending cap, while nondefense spending increased $63 billion. 

The first formal audit of the Pentagon is currently underway and is itself is expected to cost billions of dollars.

In February, Politico reported that an internal Pentagon audit found more than $800 million in improperly documented construction spending at the Defense Logistics Agency.