The Blog

The Nominee Who Lobbied Herself

Hilda Solis's breach of House ethics rules may disqualify her from serving.

11:00 PM, Feb 2, 2009 • By HANS A. VON SPAKOVSKY
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Barack Obama made a big show at the White House on his first day in office when he signed an executive order supposedly restricting the ability of former lobbyists hired by his administration from working on issues that they had previously lobbied on. Of course, he almost immediately ignored those principles when he nominated William Lynn, a Raytheon lobbyist, to be deputy secretary of the Department of Defense, named William Corr, an anti-tobacco lobbyist, to be deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, and allowed newly installed Treasury Secretary (and tax defaulter) Timothy Geitner to hire a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist to be his new chief of staff.

Now he has a nominee for Labor Secretary who apparently broke House ethics rules by lobbying for legislation that she sponsored, but who did not admit that she failed to reveal that fact on her financial disclosure forms until after her nomination became an issue. Even if the House tries to paper over this ethical lapse, the blatant conflict of interest will remain. Solis has been nominated to head a cabinet department that would directly oversee the very issues that the legislation that she sponsored would affect if it passes Congress -- and the card check legislation alone is considered the number one priority of American labor organizations.

Throughout his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama claimed the moral high ground on everything from campaign finances to lobbying, and he has continued to talk that way in the first month of his presidency. But actions speak louder than words, particularly when your actions are in direct conflict with the supposedly "high ethical standards" you keep claiming you are implementing. If President Obama does not recognize the serious ethical lapses committed by his nominee for the Labor Department, then it will be proof positive that for all of his talk of bringing change to Washington, the only change will have been in the wrong direction.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and a Justice Department official.