Obama’s Lobbying Crackdown Leaves His Pentagon No. 2 — a Former Lobbyist — Stalled in Senate

January 22, 2009 8:10 a.m.
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Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, just told reporters that Barack Obama’s nominee for deputy defense secretary, Bill Lynn, may need a waiver from the administration’s one-day-old executive order curbing lobbyist involvement in government.

Lynn’s confirmation vote is on hold, Levin said, “unless and until this is resolved … until there’s a decision on a waiver.” As Mother Jones points out, the Obama team certainly knew when they nominated Lynn that he was a longtime lobbyist for a major defense contractor, Raytheon. When you couple that with the following language from the executive order …

If I was a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2, I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment:

(a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment;

(b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or

(c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment.

… it seems clear that Lynn needs a waiver. Section (c) is particularly direct in its language. Another Obama appointee at the department of health and human services, Bill Corr, is a former anti-tobacco industry lobbyist whose prior employment could also require a waiver.

The Weekly Standard is predictably incensed at the notion of rules being “broken” — but then, so is the Project on Government Oversight. The whistleblower-backing nonprofit group believes that Obama should withdraw Lynn rather than waive him through.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) isn’t so sanguine either. “I’m not going to object or vote no,” the Obama ally said as she left the Senate chamber today, “[but] I feel so strongly that [Lynn] must take on the role of reformer.”

Now I’m wondering what this means for possible procurement reform under Obama.

Late Update: Thanks to the commenters for noting that I’d omitted a crucial “anti-” prefix there. Bill Corr is indeed a former lobbyist for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a group that opposes Big Tobacco’s agenda.

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