How we crunched the numbers

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The Center for Public Integrity used two datasets compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The first was a database of all Federal Elections Commission records containing the campaign contributions from certain defense contractors. The other database from the Senate Office of Public Records included the lobbying efforts of those contractors.

For the campaign contributions, the Center included individual donations made by top executives of these companies, donations to candidates and committees by the companies’ political action committees (PACs) and the PACs of their subsidiaries.

From these data, the Center selected donations made by General Dynamics executives, the company’s PAC and the PACs of affiliated companies. The Center also built a table of members of key defense committees going back to 2001, identifying all leadership PACs of defense members, and also a table of information that contains campaign donations and defense committee affiliations of anyone who signed an Abrams Tank-related letter dated June 20, 2012, which advocated for continued funding for the program.

By joining the separate tables to the FEC and SOPR data, the Center used descriptive statistics to see relationships among General Dynamics and members of Congress, especially those who sit on committees that have authority approving legislation related to the Abrams Tank.

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