March 19, 2012
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Post-Employment Statements
As part of its efforts to identify and expose revolving door abuses, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has begun making Freedom of Information Act requests for post employment statements, then making them publicly availalbe on the Internet. A Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) database is available. A POGO website entry has more information.
February 05, 2012
Possible Conflict for Medicare/Medicaid Nominee?
Thanks to Wayne Johnson for alerting us to a Washington Times story summarized as follows:
President Obama’s nominee, Marilyn Tavenner, to run the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid agency can count on receiving more than $160,000 a year in retirement pay for the rest of her life from the country’s largest private hospital chain, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Ms. Tavenner is a former executive of HCA.
February 04, 2012
POGO on Senior Military Officers Joining Contractors
Here's an excerpt from a recent Project on Government Oversight posting:
The revolving door that carried former Department of Defense honcho William Lynn III to a well-paying job with an Italian defense contractor keeps on spinning – now Gen. James Cartwright, who retired as the nation’s second-highest ranking military officer in August, is following Lynn into the private sector.
Cartwright is joining the Board of Directors at Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor. Earlier in the week, DRS Technologies named Lynn as its chief executive officer. (Coincidently, before Lynn was tapped as deputy defense secretary, he was a top lobbyist for Raytheon.)
January 05, 2012
DOJ to Private Law Firm
BLT (the Blog of Legal Times) reports that the assistant chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit has joined the Washington office of Jones Day as a partner in the corporate criminal investigations practice. A Jones Day lawyer offered a justification for the revolving door hiring:
“Hank Walther brings a wealth of experience and insight from his years in government,” Greg Shumaker, the partner-in-charge of Jones Day's Washington Office, said in a written statement. “The unique perspective he has gained from prosecuting hundreds of health care fraud and FCPA cases on behalf of the federal government will add tremendously to our corporate criminal investigations practice.”
January 03, 2012
Interior Official Abjures Revolving Door
The Hill reports on one senior official's method for stopping revolving door problems: Just say no.
December 15, 2011
GAO sustain protest against Army (PGE conflict?)
GAO sustained VSE Corporation protest on Army's termination of a contract awarded. The Army terminated the contract based on the contracting officer's (CO) finding that the award was tainted by the protester's hiring of a former government employee as a consultant and that individual's participation in the preparation of the protester's proposal created at least an appearance of impropriety. VSE contends that the CO's determination was unreasonable because it was based on assumptions and not facts.
B-404833.4, VSE Corporation (see http://www.gao.gov/products/B-404833.4)
November 26, 2011
USA Today Editorial on Lessons from Abramoff
The USA Today Editorial Board believes that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff can teach us about needed reforms. www.usatoday.com. USA Today suggests that the revolving door is still one of the major problems:
The 2007 [ethics reform] law did almost nothing to thwart one of Abramoff's most appalling tricks, which was to woo people in power by offering them lucrative lobbying jobs whenever they wanted to leave public service. In an interview with 60 Minutes this month, Abramoff said that once he dangled a job, not only did he get what he wanted, but congressional offices would call him to suggest additional favors they could do.
Under current law, House members and senior staffers must wait one year after leaving their jobs on Capitol Hill before they can lobby their former colleagues. That was not changed in the 2007 law. For senators and their staffers, the "cooling-off" period was increased from one to two years.
Neither of these prohibitions seems sufficiently long, and neither has sufficient teeth. In both cases, the ban is only on making personal contact with key people on Capitol Hill, so a former member or staffer can instantly take a senior position at a lobbying firm or trade association where he or she directs strategy.
October 04, 2011
SEC Defenders Mostly Revolving Door Veterans
POGO notes that most of the 52 lawyers who signed a public letter defending an ex-SEC General Counsel are former SEC senior officers or staff and observes:
The Hill reports that some Congressional staffers were less than impressed with the letter:
However, some on Capitol Hill are unimpressed and offended, both by the lawyers’ defense and the fact they are mounting it in the first place.
“This effort only raises more questions about Becker having too cozy a relationship with those the SEC is supposed to regulate,” said a GOP congressional source. “It’s appalling they’re dismissing concerns about a conflict of interest and defending money he received out of the Madoff scandal on the grounds that he could have made much more in the private sector.”
Edited Oct. 5 to remove redundant material.
August 29, 2011
POGO Questions NRC Revolving Door
The Project on Government Oversight notes that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Inspector General found no violation of law when a former Commissioner went to work for a company that owned nuclear power plants shortly after leaving the NRC. This did not necessarily satisfy POGO:
As the OIG points out, current law (18 United States Code, section 207, to be precise) "is not intended to prevent private sector employment after an individual terminates Federal service." The memo continues: "Instead, it restricts an individual from engaging in representational activities before NRC after the individual has terminated Federal service."
But are there sufficient controls in place to ensure that NRC Commissioners are acting with the public's best interest in the waning days of their regulatory careers? That's certainly a question worth asking, especially in light of some of the recent criticism about the NRC's excessive coziness with the industry it's tasked with overseeing.
August 27, 2011
FAA Restricts "Revolving Door" For Inspectors
Under a new FAA rule published on Monday, certain aviation safety inspectors who work for the agency must wait two years before they can be offered a job from air carriers and other certificate holders. "The flying public can rest assured that our aviation safety inspectors will remain focused on protecting the flying public without any conflicts of interest," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The new rule aims to address concerns raised by Congress and the DOT Inspector General in 2008 about the FAA's oversight of Southwest Airlines. An analysis by the inspector general's office found that FAA staffers overseeing Southwest had developed an "overly close relationship" with the airline, the FAA said.