Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Obama Appointee Needs A Waiver

President Barack Obama hailed his new ethics policy prohibiting appointees in his administration who previously lobbied on matters pertaining to their job in the government. Obama had to waive that rule for his number two pick at the Defense Department, a lobbyist for giant defense contractor Raytheon, and he may need another waiver for his choice for Middle East envoy, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Bloomberg News reports that Mitchell's law firm, DLA Piper, represented the Dubai government in defending its ruler against charges that he kidnapped young boys from other countries and enslaved them as jockies in camel races among other matters. Bloomberg says Mitchell's firm was paid about $8 million by the Dubai government in connection with a child-trafficking lawsuit.

You may recall that Mitchell, along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had to give up his appointment co-chairing the 9-11 Commission because of his financial ties in representing Middle East interests at his law firm. The firm claims Mitchell did not work directly on the Dubai matter; rather, he "mainly focused on growth and management at the firm of almost 4,000 attorneys and 65 offices worldwide, and high-profile projects such as an investigation of steroid use in Major League Baseball." Bloomberg adds, "Mitchell’s firm had extensive lobbying clients and offices in the Middle East ranging from the leader of Dubai to a Kuwait construction firm contracting in Iraq." "The firm also has offices in Egypt, Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi and has an affiliation with a law firm in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."

Bloomberg asked Mitchell if he planned to recuse himself from any matters in his new role because of his law firm's clients. Mitchell said, “I haven’t made any judgment on that.”
“I have to wait and see,” Mitchell said. “I will be resigning from the firm and terminating all private business activities.” It is an interesting choice Obama has made. Mitchell has basically spent the past several years getting very wealthy representing various Middle East interests. Now, he's going to be a representative of the U.S. government? Bloomberg cites a political law attorney as saying "Mitchell may need a waiver from Obama’s new policy on ethics and lobbying, which says government officials must wait two years before working on matters 'directly and substantially' related to pre-government employers or clients even if they weren’t registered lobbyists."


Mike Kole said...

The more things change...

Concerned Taxpayer said...



Gary R. Welsh said...

Why is it that the only people who can work in defense or foreign affairs are defense contractors and lobbyists for foreign governments? Just further confirmation how removed from the people our government has become. President Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex. Unfortunately, noboby heeded his warning.