Lockheed Martin hires Trump-tied lobbyist who pushed for strike against Iran

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As the U.S. and Iran exchanged threats following the downing of an American drone last week, David Urban, a former Trump campaign aide and defense company lobbyist, took to the airwaves and called for a “measured” missile strike against the hostile Middle Eastern nation.

“Unfortunately, I think there’s going to have to be some response — a measured response,” Urban told CNN host Jake Tapper last Thursday. “If I were a betting man, I’d bet that there’d be some sort of a Tomahawk missile strike on the site that launched this, a very limited response, to the missiles that struck this, and not very escalating.”

Urban’s statement that Iran “has to be checked” adds him to an extensive list of Trump associates advocating for aggressive action against Tehran. But the broadcast did not disclose that Urban lobbies for major defense companies, and this Thursday he registered as a lobbyist for defense powerhouse Lockheed Martin.

Urban, who helped steer the Trump campaign to an upset win in Pennsylvania in 2016 and is advising the 2020 campaign, has become one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, serving as president of prominent lobbying firm American Continental Group and being recognized as one of The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists” every year since 2015. 

Since Donald Trump took office, Urban has substantially grown his clientele as corporations and interest groups compete for the president’s attention. He reported lobbying for a whopping 34 clients through the first quarter of 2019, including a number of top lobbying spenders such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Qualcomm and ZTE, along with defense companies General Dynamics and MAG Defense Services. 

As Urban’s clientele grew, his firm’s revenue spiked. American Continental Group took in nearly $13 million in 2017 after bringing in around $7 million annually in prior years. 

Notably, the June 20 CNN broadcast does not disclose Urban’s status as a major lobbyist, only displaying him as a former Trump campaign adviser, Trump 2020 advisory board member and CNN political commentator. Urban and CNN did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publishing.

Newly-minted acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a former Raytheon executive and lobbyist himself, is reportedly close friends with Urban. The two graduated from West Point, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in 1986. 

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, two of the world’s largest defense contractors, work closely on major weapons, including the F-35 fighter jet and the Javelin missile system. Urban on CNN specifically mentioned the Tomahawk cruise missile, the U.S. Navy’s go-to missile originally manufactured by General Dynamics and now made by Raytheon, Urban’s former client from 2015 to 2017. 

Lockheed Martin and Raythoen each saw their stock soar after Trump announced the U.S. would leave the Iran nuclear deal. The stocks dropped before the New Year then rebounded. Executives of major defense companies, including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, have told investors that Iran tensions were good for business, The Intercept reported. Defense companies have consistently denied lobbying government on whether the U.S. should engage in conflicts.

Tensions with Iran remain at the highest level in decades following the recent U.S. imposition of sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and top military brass. Iran has promised to accelerate the development of weapons-grade uranium as the international community frets the now-bilateral abandonment of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump has expressed opposition to war with Iran, despite the hawkish nature of some of his top advisers, namely National Security Advisor John Bolton. 

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