Obama Picks Defense Lobbyist as Pentagon No. 2
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2009 -- On January 8, President-elect Barack Obama appointed William J. Lynn III, senior vice president of government operations at Raytheon Co., to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department.
Many establishment news outlets noted that that the choice of Lynn for deputy defense secretary breaks with Obama's campaign promises of 'Change' by keeping Washington lobbyists out of his administration.
The 55 year old Lynn is also a former Pentagon comptroller and Senate staffer. He was a registered lobbyist for Raytheon from 2003 through June 2008, according to the Obama transition team.
The Associated Press reported on January 8, in the first three months of 2008, Lynn's lobbying team reported spending $1.15 million to influence Defense Department issues including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced technology programs and intelligence funding.
AP also noted that Obama has vowed that no political appointees in his administration would be permitted to work on areas that "directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."
From Obama's Web site, www.barackobama.com:
No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.On January 15, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Pentagon reporter August Cole noted that against a backdrop of mounting budget pressure, the deputy secretary of defense will be a key player in tackling some of the toughest questions about how to equip the U.S. military and for what kinds of wars. The outcome of these debates will be crucial to the defense industry.
Cole continued, "Like other contractors, Raytheon has some important programs up for review this year, including its role on a multibillion dollar Navy destroyer program that employs about 2,000 of the company’s workers."
Some government watchdogs have questioned the revolving-door aspect of Lynn's appointment.
[Lynn] left public service and went into lobbying for one of the largest defense contractors in the nation. And that's the part that's troubling," said Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "Even if he's completely above board and ethical, it raises questions about his loyalty."Lynn has been an officer with Waltham, Raytheon since 2005.
During his presidential campaign, Obama took pains to tell voters he wouldn't tolerate influence-peddling.
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over," Obama said in November 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. "I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
It will be difficult for Lynn to avoid defense issues related to Raytheon, said James Thurber, who teaches lobbying at American University.
"I think it's impossible in our system not to have people that have been in the advocacy system," he said. "They're the people who know the issues and have the expertise." The key is for the administration to disclose those connections and avoid financial conflicts, he said.
Lynn has been a well known lobbyist in Washington at Raytheon for years. His responsibilities include "company liaison with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, as well as state and local government relations," according to his corporate biography on Raytheon's Web site.
Raytheon, with 2007 sales of $21.3 billion, specializes in worldwide defense and homeland security-related sales.
(Report from commercial media sources.)
AP: Obama picks lobbyist as Pentagon No. 2
WSJ: Nominee Is Questioned About Pentagon’s Revolving Door
Raytheon William J. Lynn Bio
Barack Obama Web Site: Ethics
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