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Several Lawmakers Invested in L-3 Communications, Maker of Airport Body-Scanning Machines

by Michael Beckel

A handful of federal lawmakers are invested in one of the companies behind the controversial full-body scanning machines now in more than 60 U.S. airports. The individual investments are worth thousands, and in some cases tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

According to a Center for Responsive Politics review of the most recent personal financial disclosure filings, eight members of Congress -- three Democrats and five Republicans -- owned at least $2,000 worth of stock in L-3 Communications, which is one of the two main contractors involved in the full-body scanning machines.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) disclosed possessing the most stock in L-3 Communications -- with a minimum investment of at least $500,000 and a maximum value of $1 million. The L-3 Communications stock is fully owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz, according to federal financial disclosure reports.

Members of Congress file annual personal financial disclosures detailing their assets and liabilities, as well as those of their spouses and dependent children. These forms also allow lawmakers to describe the value of their holdings and debts in broad ranges, so it's impossible to know exactly how much the holdings of Kerry's family, or any other lawmaker's household, are worth.

Republican Reps. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) both disclosed possessing between $16,002 and $65,000 worth of L-3 Communications stock in 2009.

And Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) was the member of Congress with the next most valuable holdings in L-3 Communications, worth between $15,001 and $50,000.

Here is a table of all eight lawmakers whose 2009 personal financial disclosure forms, which were filed in May, noted holdings in L-3 Communications, along with the minimum and maximum value of these holdings, according to the Center's research.

NameValue
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)$500,001 to $1,000,000
Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del)$16,002 to $65,000
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)$16,002 to $65,000
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)$15,001 to $50,000
Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.)$1,001 to $15,000
Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.)$1,001 to $15,000
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)$2,173
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas)$2,086

The government's investment in full-body scanners has broadened since the "underwear bomber's" failed terrorism attempt last Christmas. Days later, L-3 Communications was awarded a $165 million contract for the machines, and another company, RapiScan, was also awarded a $173 million contract.

Both companies have seen significant jumps in their federal lobbying expenses since just a few years ago, and both are employing officials with well-heeled government connections, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported.

For instance, RapiScan utilizes the services of Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush. And former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Linda Daschle, the wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), are both actively lobbying for L-3 Communications.

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