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Dem senator delays DOD nominee

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin wants more information on President Obama's choice for deputy Defense secretary because of his lobbying ties. Yesterday, the White House issued new rules prohibiting former lobbyists from working in the field they sought to influence.

"Given the president's new stricter rules requiring his appointees to recuse themselves from matters or issues on which they have lobbied, the Senate Armed Services Committee will need further information before proceeding," Levin said in a written statement.

The nominee in question, William Lynn, worked for defense contractor Raytheon in 2007 and 2008, when he lobbied Congress and the Bush administration.

At his first news conference today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said a waiver may be in order for Lynn. "Any standard is not perfect," Gibbs said. He cited experts who praised the new rules, but also agreed with the president that sometimes "a waiver process that allows people to serve their country is necessary."

Gibbs added, "In the case of Mr. Lynn, he's somebody who obviously is superbly qualified, is experienced going back to his Pentagon jobs during the [Bill] Clinton administration, make him uniquely qualified to do this."

Armed Services Chairman Levin said the committee will wait for a decision from the White House before going forward, "as to whether the new rules will preclude Mr. Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist for a defense contractor, from participating in key Department of Defense decisions, and if so, whether a waiver will be forthcoming and what the scope of the waiver will be."