Troubling Appointments

First we were told that the economic crisis was too important not to permit Timothy Geithner to assume the helm at Treasury, despite his “careless”, “avoidable”, and “unintentional” errors that required him to pay $34,023 in back taxes and $8,679 in interest.

The recent news that Tom Daschle failed to pay $128,000 in income taxes, despite having earned a couple million after leaving the Senate, is the perfect coda (one must hope) to Obama’s troubling appointments.

One day after President Obama was sworn in, he established new ethics guidelines for lobbyists, who may not

seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the two years before the date of my appointment

One day after Obama signed the new guidelines, a waiver was ordered for William Lynn, the top lobbyist for a small, obsure company called Raytheon. Lynn will be the Deputy Secretary of Defense. To be fair, news reports suggest that, among the names offered by the transition team, Lynn was strongly preferred by holdover Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Another waiver was required for William Corr, a former lobbyist for the anti-smoking group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Corr was nominated for Deputy of Health and Human Services.

To Obama’s loyal fans, he receives all the credit in the world for cleaning up Washington with ethics reform. Does it dawn on them that ethics reform is diluted by waivers such as those extended to Lynn and Corr?

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