Lobbyist Bill Lynn Probably Can’t Be Deputy Defense Secretary Now

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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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Comments

14 Comments

Frank Antinucci
Comment posted January 22, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

CQPolitics explained this all last night.

http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=new…


Dax
Comment posted January 22, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

“Transparently cynical”? Please. Seems pretty clear to me that the ethics EO, including its waiver provisions, are designed to create a strong presumption that lobbyists can't join agencies they used to lobby. I guess some would prefer an airtight, no-exceptions policy, but that can create cut-off-your-nose-despite-your-face scenarios. (See, e.g., Daschle). I think the important change — and it seems pretty significant to me — is that the waiver process requires someone to actually review the merits of the request and make a transparent and accountable decision whether to grant a waiver. If this turns into a rubber stamp where waivers are given out as a matter of course, well that's different. But unless that happens, this process is a huge improvement.


American rose
Comment posted January 23, 2009 @ 2:33 am

Well, well, well. NOW you are beginning to see what B.H.O. is all about and he stinks! He's a fraud, people. 'Thinks he is above the law, which is why he feels no need to produce a valid birth certificate… How can he swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States?


beowulf
Comment posted January 23, 2009 @ 3:03 am

“I guess some would prefer an airtight, no-exceptions policy”

Nothing is perfect. If a levee is breached, say, every 50 years, it doesn't mean its poorly engineered, however if a river breaches it the day after its completed, then yeah someone screwed up.
Obama needs to can Lynn or can whoever wrote the ethics rule and revoke it.

You can't have a “uniquely qualified” exception, geez, or you're creating a precedent for a future Republican president who'lll wants to waive ethics rules for his lobbyist buddies. In his own way, wasn't Karl Rove “uniquely qualified” for his White House job?


outragedmoderate
Comment posted January 23, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

I created a Facebook group today called “Obama Supporters For Enforcing The Ban On Hiring Lobbyists”. Check it out if you're interested.


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outragedmoderate
Comment posted January 23, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

I created a Facebook group today called “Obama Supporters For Enforcing The Ban On Hiring Lobbyists”. Check it out if you're interested.


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