The plot sickens! President Obama promised the American people that he would uphold the highest ethical standards, and yet he has already started down that slippery slope of exceptions to his own rules in the nomination of William Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense. You can read more details in my previous post. If you think Daschle was a "screw-up" on the President's part, then think of Lynn as a MAJOR SCREW-UP!
Here is the most recent news on the nomination from the New York Times. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the nomination of a senior executive at a major military contractor to be the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking civilian, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate. The panel had withheld approval of the nomination of the executive, William J. Lynn III, left, until its ranking Republican, John McCain of Arizona, was satisfied that Mr. Lynn would not be hobbled by the conflict-of-interest restrictions on decisions that could affect the contractor, the Raytheon Corporation, where Mr. Lynn was a lobbyist until 2008. (NY Times, February 6, 2009)
It is gratifying that McCain and his colleagues are so satisfied. According to The Associated Press, in the first three months of 2008, Lynn and his lobbying team spent $1.15 million in an effort to influence buying decisions on missiles, sensors, radars and other technology and intelligence programs. (FederalTimes.com, January 22, 2009) That is some serious lobbying ($$$$$) power; don't you think? I don't think that a company like Raytheon, or those who have worked for the company (and now work for the government) are ever "hobbled" by any restrictions whatsoever!
It is unconscionable that the President continues to pursue the nomination of an individual who works for a company - and in a key position within that company - that has been responsible for 17 (known) instances of fraud related to its extensive government contracts. Whatever his previous government experience that supposedly qualifies him for this new job, his experience at (and ties to) Raytheon creates a blatant conflict of interest, no matter how he "divests" himself of his current financial stake in the company.
If the President is to take the moral and ethical high ground he must not make exceptions of this type. Nor should Congress allow such exceptions. Although the Senate Armed Services Committee has just approved the nomination, it is not too late for the President to do the right thing and withdraw Lynn's nomination. If you haven't already done so, you can send an email to President Obama urging him to withdraw William Lynn's nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense!
We need independent thinkers with no potential conflicts of interest in such key positions, and we must remind the President of his responsibility to maintain his own professed ethical standards at all times. When it comes to ethics, there can be no exceptions!
Click here to send an email to President Obama courtesy of Voters for Peace. While there, consider signing up to get their Action Alerts.
Read more on the Lynn nomination at The Huffington Post.
Photo Credit: Undated photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense of William J. Lynn while Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).
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