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Project on Government Oversight

Grassley Says Lynn Waiver “Effectively Gutted the Ethical Heart” of Obama's Revolving Door Ban

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January 29, 2009

In a letter dated today to OMB Director Peter Orzag, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) assailed the Administration's decision to grant a waiver for Deputy Secretary of Defense-nominee William Lynn from the Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel Executive Order.

In the four-page letter, Senator Grassley states that the waiver ". . . effectively gutted the ethical heart of the President's 'Revolving Door Ban.' I find it difficult to reconcile Mr. Lynn's nomination to be the Deputy Secretary of Defense with the purpose and intent of the Executive Order .. . . I simply cannot comprehend how this particular lobbyist could be nominated to fill such a key position at DOD overseeing procurement matters, much less be granted a waiver from the ethical limitations listed in the Executive Order."

Grassley also raises the question of the message this waiver sends to other lobbyists hoping to join the Obama Administration: "Despite strong language limiting the role of lobbyists in the Executive Order, it appears to me that Mr. Lynn's nomination and the waiver granted to him leaves 'the barn door wide open' for other potential nominees with lobbying backgrounds to circumvent the Executive Order."

"It is significant that Senator Grassley, as the dean of accountability in the Senate, is weighing in on the troubling waiver given former Raytheon top lobbyist William Lynn to be the number two at the Pentagon," said Danielle Brian.

Senator Grassley's letter widens the scope of accountability opened by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Senator McCain has requested answers from Mr. Lynn by tomorrow the recusals he will be required to make under Senate Armed Services Committee Rules.  Senator Grassley is holding OMB Director Orzag accountable for being the official that granted the waiver from President Obama's Executive Order. "President Obama's message was crystal clear: allowing lobbyists to pass freely through the revolving door was simply not in the public interest," writes Grassley. Senator Grassley is asking Orzag to provide more detail on the criteria used by OMB to determine that it was in the public interest to provide a waiver to Mr. Lynn.  In addition, Grassley is asking what standards will be used by OMB in the future when determining the need for waivers from the ethics Executive Order.  

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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