Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard “blindsided” her own aides, according to Vanity Fair, when she announced her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination during a January 11 CNN interview. Since then, her fledgling campaign has been dogged by issues from the 37-year-old Gabbard’s past, as well as what Politico described as internal “disarray.”
Since she emerged as a national figure in 2016 by dramatically resigning her post at the Democratic National Committee to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president, Gabbard has become a favorite of self-described “progressives,” in particular emphasizing her anti-war foreign policy stance. But her “peace” platform has been inconsistent, with Gabbard even describing herself as a “hawk” in the “war against terrorists,” according to Jacobin, adding that she is a “dove” when it comes to “counterproductive wars of regime change.”
She has stated her support for the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists, according to her answers to a Honolulu Civil Beat policy questionnaire, as well as for the use of U.S. special forces conducting military operations in countries where the U.S. is not at war.
On Thursday, a new potential problem with Gabbard’s anti-war positions surfaced in a Huffington Post investigation into Gabbard’s campaign finances. In her campaigns for congress in Hawaii, of which she has run four so far, Gabbard has accepted upwards of $100,000 from major defense contractors.
“Regular contributions from companies including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and BAE Systems poured in between 2012 (the year she was first elected) and 2016,” the Huffington Post reported, citing publicly available campaign finance information posted by the Center for Responsive Politics. The report showed that in 2015 and 2016, aerospace firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin were her ninth and 12th largest campaign contributors, making their donations through Super PACs because it is not legal for corporations to donate directly to political candidates.
Among other weaponry, Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer of the F-35 fighter jet, the United States military’s most technologically advanced combat aircraft, according to Military.
Boeing also manufactures dozens of weapons systems, including the Minuteman III, an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile designed to deliver multiple nuclear warheads.
In 2017, however, Gabbard announced on her Vote Tulsi website that she would no longer accept money from political action committees (PACs).
But according to the Huffington Post report, “her total income from the arms industry by that point had hit $111,500.” She has also received money throughout her political career from PACs covering a variety of industries and interests, with PAC contributions to Gabbard in 2014 alone totaling $434,000, according to OpenSecrets, meaning that more than one of every four dollars Gabbard collected during that cycle was PAC money.