President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to be deputy secretary of defense, William Lynn, violates his campaign pledge that no lobbyists will be allowed on his team working on subjects they’ve recently lobbied on, Transition officials acknowledged Friday.
Officials say they were aware that Lynn had lobbied for defense giant Raytheon as recently as last summer, but they defended their pick.
"Because Mr. Lynn came so highly recommended from experts across the political spectrum, the president-elect felt it was critical that he fill this position," said Obama Transition spokesman Tommy Vietor. "We are aware that Mr. Lynn lobbied for Raytheon, and are working with Mr. Lynn to craft a role for him that is consistent with the president-elect’s high standards while balancing the need to fill this critical national security position."
Lynn, a former undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration, currently serves as senior vice president of government operations and strategy at Raytheon, a military contractor. The deputy defense secretary traditionally supervises hiring such contractors.
During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama promised that no lobbyist would work in an area related to that field for at least two years after that association.
As recently as the end of 2007, Mr. Obama was pledging that no lobbyists would "work" in his White House, but he backtracked on that promise before the Iowa caucuses, saying instead that lobbyists would not "run" his White House.
The campaign later clarified that policy as meaning that no political appointees who have been lobbyists would be allowed to work on issues that "directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."
Several former lobbyists have also paved their way into the administration, including soon-to-be chief of staff for Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Ron Klain, who was registered as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae until 2004.
– Jake Tapper and Huma Khan