The new Executive Order on ethics and lobbying issued by President Obama has caused some problems for the nomination of William Lynn to be Deputy Secretary of Defense in the new administration. As recently as last year, Lynn worked as a lobbyist for the defense giant Raytheon, the recipient of numerous, large government contracts. The new lobbying restrictions disallow any appointee from occupying a position that relates to an issue that they lobbied on within the last two years. A close ally of the President, Sen. Claire McCaskill, has raised objections to Lynn’s nomination.
The administration says that it will make an exception for Lynn. The Executive Order contains a section on the provision of waivers in special circumstances. Here is the relevant section:
3 (a) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, or his or her designee, in consultation with the Counsel to the President or his or her designee, may grant to any current or former appointee a written waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such appointee if, and to the extent that, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, or his or her designee, certifies in writing (i) that the literal application of the restriction is inconsistent with the purposes of the restriction, or (ii) that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver. A waiver shall take effect when the certification is signed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget or his or her designee.
(b) The public interest shall include, but not be limited to, exigent circumstances relating to national security or to the economy. De minimis contact with an executive agency shall be cause for a waiver of the restrictions contained in paragraph 3 of the pledge.
I’m going to assume that the “exigent cirmstance” here relates to national security. Clearly, while senators and others may raise questions about the appointment, the administration wrote wiggle room into the order that makes Lynn’s appointment possible.