Motorola spreads its money and influence far and wide

Herald Washington BureauMarch 31, 2014 

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

The firm has recruited law enforcement and national 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 "at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building," said Craig Floyd, the museum's top officer and head of the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Motorola Solutions' logo will be on display at an exhibit of a 911 call center featuring its two-way radios, he said.

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, the former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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

Museum contributions are hardly the only instance in which money from the company has flowed to groups whose members have much to say about their agencies' choices of emergency radio equipment.

Some of its donations to foundations for major police and fire departments have coincided with looming contract awards.

For example, from 2008 to 2011, heading into the start of the procurement of two major emergency communications networks covering Los Angeles County and more than 80 cities in the county, including Los Angeles, Motorola Solutions and its foundation donated $168,000 to the Los Angeles Police Foundation.

On its website, the police foundation describes itself as "the major source of private financial support" for the Los Angeles Police Department, providing "urgently needed equipment and technology."

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