McCain On Obama's Defense Pick: "I Don't Like It"

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. John McCain said Sunday the confirmation of President Barack Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary should move forward despite concerns about the nominee's role as a former defense lobbyist.

The Obama administration considers William J. Lynn, Obama's pick for the No. 2 job at the Pentagon, to be an exception from its own ban on hiring lobbyists. As a lobbyist for Raytheon, one of the military's top contractors, Lynn worked on matters with far reach across the Pentagon.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has said that even the toughest rules require "reasonable exceptions" for "uniquely qualified individuals."

"I don't like it," said McCain, the Arizona senator and Obama's Republican competitor in the 2008 presidential race. "I think it's a bit disingenuous to announce strict rules and then nominate someone with a waiver from the rules that you just announced in one of the most important jobs in Washington."

But McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, added: "I have asked to see which areas that Mr. Lynn will be recused from. But I think we need to probably move forward with his - with his nomination."

The Pentagon announced Friday that Lynn will sell his stock in Raytheon. But he won't be forced to step back from decisions related to his former employer. Instead, his dealings at the Defense Department will be subject to ethics reviews for one year, the Pentagon said.

The administration wants to waive Obama's ethics pledge for Lynn in two specific areas: a two-year prohibition on employees from participating in decisions related to their former employers, and a more specific section banning individuals from taking jobs in the agencies they recently lobbied.

"The fact is that there are a lot of talented people who have been in the lobbying business that could serve the country well, and I guess every rule has a goal, and that's to show the government's going to be run differently," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and a committee member.

"And Mr. Lynn has a resume that shows he could serve in a very important role now, so it's just the reality of policies versus governance," Graham said, adding that he applauds Obama "for trying to change the culture of government."

Lynn "is very good at what he would be assigned to do, so I'm willing to let it go if he's willing to make the waiver," Graham said.

McCain appeared on "Fox News Sunday," while Graham spoke on CNN's "State of the Union."


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