Obama Taps Raytheon VP for #2 Defense Post
President-elect Barack Obama appointed a defense contractor’s lobbyist Thursday to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, a choice that appeared to break with his self-imposed rules to keep lobbyists at arm’s length.
William J. Lynn III, Obama’s choice for deputy defense secretary, is a former Pentagon official who now is senior vice president for government operations at Raytheon Co. Lynn hasn’t been a registered lobbyist since July, meaning he can’t personally lobby Congress or the White House.
In the first three months of 2008, his lobbying team reported spending $1.15 million to influence issues including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced technology programs and intelligence funding.
Obama has vowed that no political appointees in his administration would be permitted to work on areas that “directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years.” Although Lynn heads Raytheon’s division for government operations and strategy and was personally registered as a Raytheon lobbyist until July – both within that two-year period – Obama plans to give him the job.
“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,” Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Vietor declined to comment further on whether Lynn would have to remove himself from involvement on any issues.
How do you feel about industry getting even closer to government? A good thing or bad potentially for defense industry jobs?