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Vilsack, Lahood Tests Obama’s Ethics Rules January 14, 2009

Posted by neoavatara in Politics.
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Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, Obama’s pick for Agriculture Secretary, apparently has policies that would directly contradict strict ethics regulations that Obama wanted to impose on his administration.  From the Washington Times:

As governor early this decade, Mr. Vilsack took state actions that greatly boosted MidAmerican Energy Co.‘s expansion into wind energy. He later collected political donations from company executives when he chose to run for president in 2008.

When he stepped down from office in 2006, Mr. Vilsack went to work as a consultant for the very same energy company helped by his policies, a Washington Times review of public records found. Now Mr. Vilsack is poised to return to government, where he’ll help shape a renewable-energy industry that counts MidAmerican as one of its major players.

A Senate committee is set to review his nomination Wednesday.

Ethics experts say Mr. Vilsack probably will have to remove himself from decisions that would affect his former employer if he is to live up to the new president’s ethics rules.

This is a bipartisan mess.  Former Republican Ray LaHood, Obama’s future Transportation secretary, apparently directed millions of dollars to companies that supported him politically.  Out of $60 million of earmarks he had last year, $9 million went directly to campaign donors.  Considering that Transportation will get a bulk of the $800 billion stimulus that Obama is considering this year, this is not a small issue.

I don’t like continually bashing Obama’s nominees.  Frankly, most if not all will be confirmed by the Democratic Senate.  But if Mr. Obama wants his rhetoric on ethics to mean something, we have to hold him to his own self stated standard.



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