Political action a common Motorola tactic

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 8, 2014 

WASHINGTON — Motorola executives don’t talk much about their efforts to win friends in high places, but a trail of public records outlines the company’s attempts to cultivate loyalty and befriend key government decision-makers.

The firm has recruited law enforcement and intelligence chiefs to its corporate board.

Its foundations donated or pledged to donate more than $26 million over the six years ending Dec. 31, 2011, to nonprofits formed by law enforcement and firefighting interests, a McClatchy analysis found.

It has contributed nearly $2 million over the last decade to the Republican and Democratic governors associations, which in turn helped foot the re-election costs of governors whose administrations awarded Motorola big contracts.

Motorola, which now operates independently as Motorola Solutions Inc., has spent upward of $60 million on federal lobbying over the last decade and untold sums lobbying states.

Motorola and its foundations have been major benefactors of police chief associations. They’ve also bankrolled a leading emergency communications advocacy coalition.

No evidence has surfaced that any of the donations by Motorola’s foundations were made as part of explicit exchanges for support in winning business. However, such donations are unusual for a radio company and they create an appearance of cozy relationships with people who can influence contract awards.

A prime example of how Motorola enlarges its presence is the way the company’s foundation leaped to the fore in supporting a new National Law Enforcement Museum, due to open in the nation’s capital in 2016.

With a $3 million check, the Motorola Solutions Foundation became the museum’s first donor. Last year, the company and its foundation earned elite status by pledging to lift the total to $15 million in cash and equipment, far surpassing any other backer.

In return, a sign on the museum facade will state that it is located “at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building,” said Craig Floyd, the museum’s top officer and head of the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Executives of the museum’s three biggest donors — Motorola, the DuPont Corp. and Target Corp. — hold seats on the fund’s board, where they can hobnob with officials of national police groups. Motorola’s representative on the board: Senior Vice President Karen Tandy, who is the former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Floyd said he sees no problems with the arrangement because “it makes perfect sense” for companies such as Motorola to “view themselves as partners with the law enforcement community in providing public safety to this nation.”

A spokesman for Motorola Solutions would neither comment on the company’s largesse nor on its hefty lobbying expenditures.

In a statement issued after McClatchy first published the results of its investigation, the company’s director of global communications and government affairs, Tom McMahon, said it was “disturbing that a news organization would question a law-abiding company’s community citizenship.”

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