The DJIA closed over 25,000 on Wednesday (March 13), after a brief dip earlier in the week on the Ethiopian Airlines crash, well above the 18,259.60 where it closed the day before Trump was elected in November of 2016.

Shanahan and the revolving door

Washington, DC’s “revolving door” shuffles policy-making experts between government jobs, industry posts, and lobbying groups. Boeing has a particularly active one.

From 2008 until the present, Boeing hired 19 officials from the Department of Defense, according to the Project on Government Oversight.

Trump appointed Patrick Shanahan, a Boeing executive for more than three decades with no military experience, to be deputy secretary of Defense in July of 2017. When James Mattis, the former Marine Corps. general who Trump named Defense secretary, quit with a warning about Trump’s world view in December of 2018, Shanahan was named acting Secretary of Defense, putting him in charge of the Pentagon’s over $700-billion budget.

Before joining the federal government, Shanahan oversaw the 787 Dreamliner and the company’s missile defense system, among other projects. As acting Secretary, Shanahan has “made numerous statements promoting his former employer Boeing and has disparaged the company’s competitors,” according a complaint filed by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group asked the Inspector General to investigate whether Shanahan violated ethics rules on March 13.

Dan Elwell, the acting head of the FAA, is a former lobbyist, and airline executive, who worked for the Aerospace Industries Association which “advocates for effective federal investments” and whose members include Boeing.

Boeing has also hired dozens of former Congressional aides and executive branch officials, including the former Senate Appropriations Committee staffer Arthur Cameron, who is the company’s vice president of federal affairs, and House Transportation and Infrastructure committee aide Amy Smith, who is now director of aviation policy and integration.

Boeing received $21 billion in government contracts in 2017 from the Pentagon, or about 22% of its net revenues. In the second half of 2018, the company was awarded three multibillion-dollar contracts for major Department of Defense aircraft programs, even as it remains behind schedule for other work.

Boeing’s impact

Boeing employs over 153,000 US employees, and has a big footprint in Washington state, California, and Missouri, among others. While some members of Congress demanded that the Boeing Max planes be grounded immediately, lawmakers from states where Boeing facilities are based said they’d put their faith in regulators and the company. “The important thing is that relevant agencies are allowed to conduct a thorough and careful investigation,” said Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington, during a hearing March 12.

The company says its activities in Washington are a natural part of its business activities. “As the nation’s largest exporter and a leading producer of both commercial and defense aerospace products, there are a number of significant policy issues at the federal, state and local levels with the potential to impact our business, our diverse workforce, and our supply chain,” a Boeing spokesman said. “Our team is focused on telling Boeing’s story and supporting policies that advance the aviation industry and U.S. manufacturing in the communities where we live and work.”

Read more of Quartz’s coverage of the Boeing 737 Max crisis.

This article originally identified Boeing as a Seattle, Washington company. The company moved its global headquarters from Seattle to Chicago in 2001, but the bulk of its US operations remain in Seattle. 

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