From NBC's Ken Strickland
The Obama administration has given an ethics waiver for Bill Lynn, a Defense Department nominee who is a former lobbyist.
In a written statement released moments ago, Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin said the administration "has removed an obstacle to the confirmation of Bill Lynn to be Deputy Secretary of Defense by waiving the provisions of President Obama's Executive Order on Ethics Commitments that would have precluded Mr. Lynn's service."
*** UPDATE *** Yesterday, Levin said he would have to delay Lynn's confirmation process because as a former defense lobbyist for Raytheon, Lynn's service would conflict with the Administration's new ethics rules. Those rules prohibit former lobbyist from working in the area they once lobbied, unless a waiver is given.
Even with the waiver, Levin said today the committee "will continue to insist that Mr. Lynn comply with a strict set of ethics rules... including the requirement to recuse himself, for a period of one year, from any decisions involving his prior employer, unless specifically authorized to participate by an appropriate ethics official."
The move immediately drew criticism from Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "I am disappointed in President Obama's decision to waive the 'revolving door' provisions of the executive order for Mr. Bill Lynn," he said in a written statement. "While I applaud the President's action to implement new, more stringent ethical rules, I had hoped he would not find it necessary to waive them so soon."
McCain also said he would need to ask Lynn "to clarify for the record what matters and decisions will require his recusal" before he decided to support his confirmation.