Obama Ex-Lobbyist Pick in New Flap

By Justin Rood

Jun 11, 2009 4:08pm

 Obama Ex Lobbyist Pick in New Flap Former defense lobbyist Bill Lynn made waves a few months ago when President Obama crossed his lobbyist ban by tapping him to be Deputy Defense Secretary. He’s doing it again.

Back in January, several groups opposed Lynn’s nomination because of the inherent conflicts of interest they said he would face trying not to involve himself in matters that could involve his old employer, Raytheon, which does a reported $10 billion in Defense business annually.

At the time, White House officials said Lynn was “uniquely qualified,” and waiving the lobbyist ban in his case was “in the public interest.”

On Tuesday, Lynn announced he would take on the newly-created Pentagon post that scrutinizes contractors’ bids on pricey projects, looking for inaccuracies in cost estimates and scheduling. That set off alarm bells for the folks at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog that opposed Lynn’s nomination.

“He’s supposed to be recusing himself from anything he might have lobbied on,” said Mandy Smithberger of POGO, referring to the terms of a special waiver President Obama granted the ex-lobbyist. “So he might not be the best to have in that position at this moment.”

Moreover, POGO points out, Lynn opposed the position’s creation to begin with, saying it would have “unintended, negative consequences.”

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: Defense spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith responds: “Under government-wide ethics regulations Mr. Lynn recuses himself from acting on matters which directly affect the financial interests of his former employer.  In this case Mr. Lynn has indicated he will refer any duties he's unable to perform directly to the Secretary of Defense.”

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