Lobbyist Bill Lynn Probably Can’t Be Deputy Defense Secretary Now
Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm
As mentioned earlier, Bill Lynn, President Obama’s deputy defense secretary-desginate, is coming back to the Pentagon from defense-contractor giant Raytheon, where he was a top lobbyist.
But wait! Didn’t Obama just yesterday put out an executive order barring officials from entering his government for two years after they’ve stopped lobbying on issues relevant to their government service?
Sure enough, here comes a statement from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:
“Given the President’s new stricter rules requiring his appointees to recuse themselves from matters or issues on which they have lobbied, the Senate Armed Services Committee will need further information before proceeding with the nomination of William J. Lynn III to be Deputy Secretary of Defense. The committee will await the administration’s assessment as to whether the new rules will preclude Mr. Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist for a defense contractor, from participating in key Department of Defense decisions, and if so, whether a waiver will be forthcoming and what the scope of the waiver will be.”
At the risk of prediction, it’s hard to see how Bill Lynn can be deputy secretary now. I hold in my left hand the one-sheet biography that the Obama defense team passed out at last week’s confirmation hearings for Lynn: “Mr. Lynn currently serves as senior vice president for Government Operations and Strategy at Raytheon Company. In that position, he leads the company’s strategic planning and oversees the government relations activity.” That’s lobbying. If Obama somehow redefines lobbying to exclude overseeing “government relations activity” so as to preserve Lynn’s nomination, it would be transparently cynical.
My guess is that someone on the Obama team in charge of the executive order didn’t sufficiently communicate with the Pentagon. This is an embarrassing blunder.
Update: According to Swampland, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “Our waiver provisions are designed to allow uniquely qualified individuals like Bill Corr and Bill Lynn to serve the public interest in these critical times.” Like I said: transparently cynical. Other people can’t serve after lobbying on service-relevant issues because you want to strike the right ethical tone — but the number two guy at the Pentagon is an exception?
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