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Government-industry revolving door

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The government-industry revolving door puts industry-friendly experts in positions of decision-making power. Often individuals rotate between working for industry and working for the government in regulatory capacities, arrangements that are fraught with potential for conflicts of interest.

"Under current law, government officials who make contracting decisions must either wait a year before joining a military contractor or, if they want to switch immediately, must start in an affiliate or division unrelated to their government work. One big loophole is that these restrictions do not apply to many high-level policy makers..., who can join corporations or their boards without waiting."[1]


  • Edward C. (Pete) Aldridge, Jr. - In the month before he left the Pentagon to join the board of Lockheed Martin, Aldridge approved a $3 billion contract to build 20 Lockheed planes, "after having long criticized the program as overpriced and having threatened to cancel it."[2] While on the Lockheed board, Aldridge was named to head President Bush's commission on space exploration. "Lockheed is one of NASA's biggest contractors, and only Senator John McCain, ...objected and called for Mr. Aldridge's removal, complaining of conflict of interest."[3]
  • David Bernhardt
    • Government: Director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Department of the Interior
    • Industry: Previously an attorney with Brownstein, Hyatt, and Farber, Bernhardt; lobbied Congress and federal administrative agencies on behalf of mining, oil, chemical companies and power plants
  • Robin Batterham - Batterham worked as a senior executive for global mining company, Rio Tinto, three days a week and as Chief Scientist advising the Australian Prime Minister two days a week. In early 2005 he resigned as Chief Scientist to work full time for the mining company.
  • Claude Burcky - "Two senior United States trade negotiators who sealed the trade deal with Australia have accepted plum jobs representing US medical and drug companies. ... Claude Burcky, who was [Ralph] Ives's [see below] head negotiator for intellectual property trade issues, is now director of global government affairs at the pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories. Mr Ives and Mr Burcky took their jobs after negotiating the trade deal." The U.S.-Australian Free Trade Agreement was criticized by U.S. health care reformers as "designed to undercut access to affordable medicines for Americans and Australians," while maintaining pharmaceutical company profits.[4]
  • John T. Chain
    • Government: Commander of the Strategic Air Command; retired in February 1991.
    • Industry: Member of the board of Northrop Grumman Corporation since 1991; Executive Vice President for Burlington Northern Railroad from March 1991 to February 1996; President of Quarterdeck Equity Partners, Inc. since December 1996; Chairman of the Board of Thomas Group, Inc. since May 1998; director on the boards of RJ Reynolds, Inc., ConAgra Foods, Inc., and Kemper Insurance Company.
  • Vice-president Dick Cheney - Cheney denied that he had any ties with Halliburton Company after he left his position as CEO of the company in 2000. An investigation by the Congressional Research Service revealed that while VP Cheney received deferred compensation from Halliburton to the tune of $500,000 to $1,000,000. While Cheney was Secretary of Defense for George Herbert Walker Bush, the Pentagon contracted infamous Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root "to study the cost effectiveness of outsourcing some military operations to private contractors. Based on the results of the study, the Pentagon hired Brown & Root to implement an outsourcing plan." Cheney became the CEO of Halliburton in 1995. Questions about "sweetheart deals" with Halliburton arose as the company was awarded no-bid contracts for reconstruction in Iraq. The contracts were estimated to be worth about $1.5 billion. Probes into Halliburton led to allegations of overcharging the military for importing oil from Kuwait into Iraq, $6 million in kickbacks for the awarding of contracts to a Kuwaiti company and $180 million in bribes to land a natural gas project contract in Nigeria while Cheney was CEO. Reported by MSNBC/AP on 9 April 2004 to be "making a pitch for Westinghouse's U.S. nuclear power technology" while in China on the taxpayer tab.
  • James L. Connaughton
    • Government: Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (Senior environmental advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy)
    • Industry: Previously a lobbyist for power industry and large electricity users. "A former lobbyist for utilities, mining, chemical, and other industrial polluters, Connaughton, represented the likes of General Electric and ARCO in their effort to escape responsibility for cleaning up toxic Superfund sites. Now he heads up pollution-policy development for the administration and coordinates its implementation. He has led the charge to weaken the standards of getting arsenic out of our drinking water, and he has steadily advised Bush to ignore, divert, stall, dismiss, and otherwise block out all calls for action against the industrial causes of global warming."[5]
  • Richard Crowder - On Dec 20, 2005, Richard Crowder was confirmed by the US Senate as the US Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator. For three years prior to this appointment, Crowder was the CEO of the American Seed Trade Association - a lobby group for US agricultural corporations. Prior to 2002, from 1994 to 1999, Crowder was Senior Vice President, International, of DEKALB Genetics Corporation - an agricultural genetics and seed biotechnology corporation which is now part of Monsanto. From 1989-1992, he also occupied a government post, serving as Under Secretary of International Affairs & Commodity Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [6]
  • Gordon R. England
    • Government: Secretary of the Navy from May 2001 to January 2003; Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from January 2003 to October 2003; Secretary of the Navy since October 2003.
    • Industry: Executive vice president of General Dynamics Corporation from 1997 to 2001; executive vice president of the Combat Systems Group; president of General Dynamics Fort Worth aircraft company, which later became Lockheed Martin; president of General Dynamics Land Systems Company; principal of a mergers and acquisition consulting company.
  • Alan K. Fitzsimmons
    • Government: Wildlands Fuels Coordinator, Department of the Interior
    • Industry: Founder, 1992, consulting firm Balanced Resource Solutions, writing extensively for conservative think-tanks and free-market groups; claimed “ecosystems are not real”
    • Government: Previously assistant to the Deputy Director of the National Park Service (1983-1985), the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks (1985-1989), and the Deputy Under Secretary for Policy, Planning and Development at the Department of Energy (1989-1992)
  • Ronald Fogleman: While serving on the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Secretary of Defense (Donald H. Rumsfeld at the time) on military strategy, was hired by Boeing Company as a consultant while it was seeking Pentagon approval for a $20 billion contract for aerial refueling tankers. "An internal Boeing e-mail message indicated that the men, Adm. David Jeremiah, a retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of five corporate boards, and Gen. Ronald Fogleman, who retired from the Air Force, were to lobby Mr. Rumsfeld's office."[7]
  • Ed Gillespie - Gillespie, a prominent Republican party leader and campaign advisor to George W. Bush, also owns his own lobbying and PR firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates. Shortly after Bush took office, Gillespie went to work for a few days for the U.S. Commerce Department, where he arranged for the department to hire as its press secretary one of his own employees at Quinn Gillespie, Jim Dyke. Gillespie finished his work at the Commerce Department on February 15, 2001, and the following day he was back at work at his own office at Quinn Gillespie.
  • John D. Graham
    • Government: Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Office of Management and Budget
    • Industry: Is on leave from position as Professor of Policy and Decision Sciences in the Faculty of Public Health at Harvard University, financed by corporate polluters
    • "Graham is the de facto boss of all regulatory programs for the entire government -- any change in enviro rules must pass through his strangling hands. An avowed enemy of pollution regulations, he previously headed a quasi-academic front group that consistently issued reports claiming that environmental protections are too costly for industry -- not a surprising stance since he and his 'risk-assessment' center were financed by more than 100 corporate entities, including the American Petroleum Institute, Dow, Dupont, Exxon, Monsanto, and 3M."[8]
  • Julie Goon
    • Government: Special Assistant for Medicare Outreach, Department of Health and Human Services
    • Industry: Previously worked as health industry lobbyist as Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, American Association of Health Plans.
  • J. Steven Griles
    • Government: Deputy Secretary, Department of the Interior, where he worked closely with the industries he is supposed to regulate on polluting and exploitive policies like the Clear Skies initiative. (2001-)
    • Industry: Lobbyist for coal, energy, oil, gas, mining and manufacturing industries (1989-2001)
    • Government: In a variety of positions, primarily in the Department of the Interior, Griles worked on policies such as pushing for oil drilling off the coast of California and selling land contracts for oil and shale extraction at give-away prices. (1970-1989)
    • "A disciple of the infamous James Lee Watt, for whom he worked in the Reagan years, Griles went on to be a lobbyist for the National Mining Association, Edison Electric, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and other energy giants. Appointed the overseer of America's 500 million acres of public lands, Griles was hailed by the NMA as 'an ally of the industry,' and the mining association welcomed him as 'a breath of fresh air' -- for polluters, of course, not for us air breathers! Even though he is a public official now, he still draws $284,000 a year from his former lobbying firm, which represents corporations he supposedly regulates. Also, he has continued to meet behind closed doors with his former (and perhaps future) industry clients. The inspector general is investigating him for the blatant conflicts of interest posed by these meetings, which he had pledged to avoid in a 'recusal agreement' he signed to get his government job."[9]
  • Jeffrey Holmstead - "assistant EPA administrator for air quality. Previously a lobbyist with the firm of Latham & Watkins, Holmstead represented electric utilities trying to fight air pollution restrictions, and he represented the Farm Bureau conglomerate in its fights against pesticide controls. Now inside, he's a key player pushing Bush's Clear Skies initiative, which will allow a 520 percent increase in toxic mercury pollution, a 225 percent jump in carbon dioxide pollution (a global warming contaminant), and a delay in the enforcement of smog and soot pollution until 2016. In charge of writing a new rule to limit mercury poisoning of children by electric power plants, Holmstead embraced a watered-down rule that essentially was written by his old lobbying firm of Latham & Watkins."[10]
  • William Horn - "chairman of the fish and wildlife commission. In charge of charting policies governing America's priceless National Wildlife Refuge System, Horn's background is not as wildlife protector, but as a corporate lobbyist representing interests wanting to exploit our public refuges for their profit. He has lobbied for Florida Power & Light, Yukon Pacific Corporation (which wants to build a gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to the port of Valdez, then export the gas to Asia), and the Nuclear Energy Institute. For a hint about his attitude toward preserving pristine wildlife areas, note that he has been the lead attorney for such outfits as the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, and Sun Valley HeliSki company."[11]
  • Ralph Ives - "Ralph Ives was promoted in April [2004] to assistant US trade representative for pharmaceutical policy after leading the trade negotiations with Australia. Next month he becomes vice-president for global strategy at AdvaMed, an industry group that says its members produce half of the world's medical technology products."[12]
  • David E. Jeremiah: While serving on the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Secretary of Defense (Donald H. Rumsfeld at the time) on military strategy, was hired by Boeing Company as a consultant while it was seeking Pentagon approval for a $20 billion contract for aerial refueling tankers. "An internal Boeing e-mail message indicated that the men, Adm. David Jeremiah, a retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of five corporate boards, and Gen. Ronald Fogleman, who retired from the Air Force, were to lobby Mr. Rumsfeld's office."[13]
  • Jeffery S. Merrifield - Twelve days after leaving his position as Commissioner for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Merrifield joined the The Shaw Group, Inc. as vice-president of the company's power group. The watchdog group Project on Governmental Oversight noted that, in his last few months at the NRC, "Merrifield vigorously championed several major policy initiatives that directly benefited his future employer," including a change that reduced government and public oversight of new nuclear power plant construction, [15] and changes to the approval process for new nuclear plant construction that scaled back public hearings and public comment periods. [16]
  • William G. Myers - "solicitor of the Interior Department. The government's top lawyer for cases involving exploitation of our public lands by mining and agribusiness corporations, Myers previously was a lawyer and lobbyist representing mining and agribusiness corporations. At interior, he has pushed for new rules to allow more cattle grazing, to limit endangered species protections, to require fewer environmental impact statements for the lands under his stewardship, and to open public lands in five Western States to oil drilling. Myers is under investigation by ethics officials for meeting with his former corporate clients, despite having signed a conflict-of-interest agreement to avoid such contacts. Meanwhile, George W has nominated this possible law violator to be a federal appeals judge."[17]
  • Harvey L. Pitt - Pitt, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from August 3, 2001 until his forced resignation in November 2003, served a tumultuous tenure amid multiple accusations of conflict of interest. His problems worsened with exposure of major corporate scandals such as those of Enron and WorldCom. Pitt’s appointment of William Webster to head the accounting board led to his resignation after it was determined that Pitt withheld information from other SEC commissioners about Webster's involvement with a company facing fraud charges. Prior to his appointment as SEC Chairman, Pitt was an attorney for the accounting industry.[18] [19]
  • Peter Pitts
    • Former associate commissioner for external affairs of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Pitts served as the senior communications adviser to the FDA Commissioner. He provided strategic policy and program direction for the agency’s entire range of communications and interaction with stakeholders and other external audiences, including media. He oversaw the office of public affairs, office of the ombudsman, office of special health issues, and the advisory committee oversight and management staff."
    • Joined Manning Selvage & Lee in June 2004 as senior vice president of health affairs. "Pitts will focus on three areas: counseling pharmaceutical, biotech and food companies on integrated marketing communications in a highly regulated environment; driving thought leadership on food and health issues facing the industry, including new drug development, drug importation, direct-to-consumer advertising, obesity and food labeling; and creating innovative consumer wellness programs for health and food companies."
    • Pitts worked in marketing for the Lifetime Network, Reader's Digest, McCall's, the New York Post, the Washington Times, Insight Magazine, and the Hudson Institute before working at the FDA.[20]
  • Bennett Raley
    • Government: Assistant Secretary of Water and Science, Department of the Interior
    • Industry: Previously a water and property rights lawyer; member of Wise Use Movement front groups.
    • "A longtime, extremist 'corporate rights' advocate who previously lobbied to kill our nation's Clean Water Act, Raley now is the top official in charge of water issues at the interior department. In 2002, he teamed up with Karl Rove in a flagrant political maneuver to provide extra water for agribusiness from a federal water project in eastern Washington, even though agency scientists warned that this would be disastrous for wild salmon under federal protections in the Klamath River. Career agency professionals were forced to bow to White House political pressure, and thousands of fish died. When responsible officials tried to divert some of the Klamath basin water back to the endangered salmon populations, Raley again waved in Rove to apply top-heavy political pressure and back them off."[21]
  • Joseph W. Ralston
    • Government: Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from March 1996 to April 2000; Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO, from May 2000 to January 2003; retired from active duty on March 1, 2003.
    • Industry: Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group since March 2003 when he retired from active duty; director on the board of Lockheed Martin since April 2003; director of The Timken Company since 2003; director on the board of URS Corporation since October 2003.
  • Mark Rey
    • Government: Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture
    • Industry: Previously a timber industry lobbyist
    • "Rey, who now is caretaker of America's 156 national forests, has spent his entire career as a timber industry lobbyist and congressional staffer hell-bent on fattening industry profits by letting corporations clear-cut the public's trees. He headed the American Forest and Paper Association, the leading proponent of logging our national forests, prior to becoming a senate staffer and authoring an infamous 1995 act that suspended all environmental laws to give the green light for corporations to clear cut old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. He also wrote a bill that would have eliminated local citizen committees that oversee timber harvests. As forest chief, Rey has been the key force behind Bush's 'Healthy Forests' scam that would allow nearly unlimited clear-cutting in pristine national forests."[22]
  • Thomas Sansonetti - "assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources. Now the public's lead lawyer for defending our environmental protection programs in court, Sansonetti is a Republican Party political operative and a lobbyist from Wyoming who represented coal companies and other energy corporations in their efforts to undermine these same environmental protections. He previously was chief lawyer for the Republican National Committee, and, as a lobbyist, he pushed in Washington to let each coal company increase its mining on federal lands by one-third. Another of the far-right corporatists that Bush has put in charge of the machinery of government, Sansonetti, is a proud member of the government-hating, laissez-faire Federalist Society, which is amply funded by ultra-conservative, corporate foundations."[24]
  • Eugene Scalia - An anti-labor lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP who became Solicitor of Labor in January 2002 through a George W. Bush recess appointment after the Senate refused to confirm the nomination. He resigned in January 2003, shortly after the appointment expired, in order to avoid what would have been a bruising Senate confirmation hearing.
  • Patricia Lynn Scarlett
    • Government: Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget, Department of the Interior
    • Industry: President and CEO Reason Foundation, funded by a variety of industry groups; senior fellow at the anti-public interest, pro-business Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
    • "This overseer of overall policy affecting our nation's public resources is no fan of the public even holding resources and doesn't like regulation of private efforts to exploit the public's resources. She has written that 'environmentalism is a coherent philosophy that rivals Marxism.' Most of Scarlett's career has been spent with the Reason Foundation, a think tank that vigorously opposes government regulations and is funded by such corporations as Chevron, Dow, Enron, ExxonMobil, Phillip Morris, and Shell Oil, as well as by the American Petroleum Institute, American Plastics Council, and American Chemistry Council."[25]
  • Matt Schlapp
    • Government: Head of the White House’s Office of Political Affairs
    • Industry: Executive Director of Federal Affairs, directing lobbying in "the Washington office of oil-and-gas conglomerate Koch Industries, the latest example of high-level administration and congressional staffers making post-election leaps to the lobbying world." [26]
  • Simon Stevens: former health advisor to British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who in May 2004 is set to head up the UK office of the Minneapolis-headquartered United Health Group (UHG). UHG is seeking contracts from the government funded National Healthcare Service. [30]
  • Michael Taylor - Taylor, a former attorney for Monsanto, went to work for the United States Food and Drug Administration, where he helped draft FDA's policy declaring that genetically modified foods are "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS). While at the FDA, Taylor also wrote the policy that exempted biotech foods from labeling. His former law firm, which still represented Monsanto, then began suing dairies that labeled their milk rBGH-free (Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone to increase milk production). After these policies were written, Taylor left the FDA and eventually went back to work for Monsanto.
  • Carmen Toohey - "special interior assistant for Alaska. Cam, as he is known, is Gale Norton's handpicked aid to oversee environmental policies affecting the vast federal landholdings in our nation's largest state. For the Bushites, policy priority Number One in Alaska is, of course, to turn loose their oil buddies to build roads, move in drilling rigs, and extend pipelines across the majestic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Cam is well-versed on this priority and completely in tune with it, for he comes to his government job from having led Arctic Power, a lobbying group supporting corporate interests that want to open our public refuge to their private profit schemes."[31]
  • Daniel E. Troy - Marking a dramatic shift in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, Troy, formerly a representative of U.S. pharmaceutical firms and now lead counsel for the FDA, informed drug companies that he would provide aid in torpedoing certain lawsuits, especially those with claims of medications causing unexpected or harmful side effects.[32]. As of Septmeber 2, 2008, Troy will be lead counsel for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline according tot he Wall Street Journal [33]
  • Ann M. Veneman
    • Government: U. S. Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2004)
    • Industry: Private law practice; provided legal representation to the Sierra Nevada Access and Multiple Use Stewardship Coalition, a place-based consensus-building program for a section of California's forested areas (1999-2001)
    • Industry: Served on the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade, a group funded by Cargill, Nestle, Kraft, and Archer Daniels Midland; member of the Bennett Agriculture Round Table, and Food Foresight
    • Government: Named head of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (1995-1999)
    • Industry: Served on the board of directors for Calgene Inc (makers of genetically-engineered Flavr Savr tomato, bought by Monsanto in 1997)
    • Government: U.S. Department of Agriculture under George Herbert Walker Bush (1986-1993)
  • Rebecca Watson - "assistant interior secretary for land and minerals. Directing the Bureau of Land Management, Watson is responsible for the rules and fees for gold mining companies, drillers, and other corporations wanting to profit on the wealth of minerals and other public resources within our federal lands. Her qualifications for the job are not as a public defender, but as a Montana lawyer representing mining and logging corporations that either wanted unfettered access to these public treasures or that didn't want to pay for the environmental damage done by their exploitative procedures. Watson has represented Golden Sunlight Mines, Fidelity Exploration, Plum Creek Timber, and other companies regulated by the agency she now heads. She also worked on the litigation committee of the right-wing Mountain States Legal Foundation, a litigious, corporate-funded group of legal activists that tries to run over any environmental protection that pinches even a dime's worth of ill-gotten corporate profits."[34]
  • Thomas E. White
    • Government: Secretary of the Army from May, 2001 until forced to resign April, 2003
    • Industry: Senior executive at Enron Corporation, 1990-2001
    • Government: Retired as Army brigadier general in 1990
  • Christine Todd Whitman - After resigning as Secretary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (a post she held from January 2001 to May 2003), Whitman formed the Whitman Strategies Group consulting firm. The firm's first client was FMC Corporation, "a chemical company negotiating with the EPA over the cleanup of arsenic-contaminated soil at a factory near Buffalo, N.Y." In a May 2005 interview, Whitman said she had not worked directly with FMC, but would likely advise them on "how to improve their image" and gain "access to the people they need to speak to." FMC "is responsible for 136 Superfund sites across the country ... and has been subject to 47 EPA enforcement actions." [35]
  • Donald C. Winter - To serve as Secretary of the Navy, President Bush Jr. nominated Donald Winter, currently the Vice President of Northrop Grumman, which builds many of the Navy's warships and receives billions of dollars to build other weapons. [36]
  • Michael W. Wynne - Bush Jr. also nominated Michael Wynne as Secretary of the Air Force. Wynne was one of several people who were blamed by a Pentagon inspector general for a failed 23.5 billion dollar deal with Boeing, which many lawmakers call the most significant case of contract abuse in decades. [37]

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