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) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era 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 MattisOvernight Defense: US, South Korea cancel another military exercise | Dozen sailors injured in chopper crash on aircraft carrier | Navy vet charged with sending toxic letters US, South Korea cancel another military exercise Top US Afghan commander drew his sidearm during this week's attack: report 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.