Hillary Clinton stood before a crowd in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Sunday afternoon and touched on a topic that hits close to home in the state: taking on the firearm and ammunitions industries. She told her audience days before the Tuesday primary there that the United States loses roughly 90 people a day to gun violence and that action needs to be taken to stop the carnage.
“We also have to take on the gun lobby and take on the epidemic of gun violence,” she said of the issue she has tried to use on the campaign trail to distinguish herself from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom she says is closer to the gun industry than she is. “We cannot go on like this.”
What Clinton did not tell those assembled to hear her speak at the University of Bridgeport — a school just a 30-minute drive from Newtown, where the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre occurred — is that the State Department she led for four years approved hundreds of millions of dollars in firearms and ammunitions sales to foreign buyers during her tenure, according to Defense Department documents. That includes nearly $140 million in fiscal year 2011 alone in ammunition sales for a single company that has close ties to John Podesta, a high-level aide in her presidential campaign, as reported on Medium.
That year the State Department — which plays a pivotal role in approving arms and ammunition deals under the Arms Export Control — approved ammunition sales to foreign buyers for aerospace and defense manufacturer General Dynamics. That company has several significant ties to the broader weapons industry in the U.S., including companies that make ammunition for AR-15 style assault rifles, like the one used in Sandy Hook. General Dynamics has also employed Anthony Podesta, the brother of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, as a lobbyist since at least 2009 when Clinton took over as secretary of state.
General Dynamics has paid the Podesta Group, which was founded by the Podesta brothers in 1987, $2.4 million to lobby the federal government since 2009, when President Barack Obama first took office and placed Clinton in the State Department, according to an International Business Times review of Senate lobbying disclosure forms. That includes over $560,000 in both 2009 and 2010, the Democrats’ first two years in office. Anthony Podesta is listed as a lobbyist on those forms and has also raised over $160,000 as a bundler for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
While General Dynamics doesn’t sell ammunition domestically, it does own a gunpowder company that is a wholesale supplier to some of the biggest U.S. ammunition brands like Challenger, Samson, Ramshot, Blazer, Hogden and Winchester.
Clinton has more connections to the firearm and ammunitions industries as well. She has accepted contributions from executives of financial firms that own sizable stakes in the firearms industry. Last month, Clinton also benefited from a campaign fundraiser that John Podesta co-hosted alongside lobbyist Jeff Forbes of the Forbes-Tate firm. Forbes has represented the National Rifle Association since 2009, the Intercept reports, and is listed as lobbying for the group on “issues related to 2nd Amendment rights, regulation and gun control, and tax and appropriations related to the same.”