POGO urges Obama to withdraw Lynn's nomination

A day after issuing an executive order with a new ban on lobbyists entering government, President Barack Obama issued a waiver to allow a former lobbyist to be deputy secretary of defense, the watchdog group says.

A government watchdog group called on President Barack Obama today to withdraw the nomination of former Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn to be deputy secretary of defense because it said Lynn's appointment appears to circumvent the president’s new ethics order.

Under an executive order signed Jan. 21, lobbyists must wait two years before accepting positions at federal agencies they have lobbied. The order also bans federal employees from accepting gifts and appointees from accepting jobs from lobbyists, and it requires greater transparency of government documents.

The Project on Government Oversight asked Obama to withdraw Lynn’s nomination because it apparently violates the new rule. Although Lynn lobbied the Defense Department on Raytheon’s behalf as recently as the first quarter of 2008, White House officials granted Lynn a waiver, POGO said.

“President Obama should not compromise his standards and the effectiveness of the Department of Defense by allowing a top defense industry lobbyist to receive a waiver from these standards,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said in a statement.

Lynn was not available for comment but has previously said that he has complied with all ethics rules.

The cooling-off period imposed on lobbyists entering government is a new type of ethics rule, said Scott Amey, general counsel at POGO. Most ethics prohibitions, including those in the House and Senate, focus on government officials waiting a prescribed amount of time before accepting a lobbying post.

“It seems as if the Obama administration took five steps forward with its order on openness, transparency and ethics, but when you look how it is going to be applied, if it is riddled with lobbyists who have received waivers, it has pretty much made the ban toothless,” Amey said.


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