Ethics in govt? No lobbyists in the administration? Right… Seems Obama has found himself another winner. Do I smell another lobbyist waiver coming up?
For the record, I personally don’t care that Panetta was a lobbyist, afterall that is the name of the game in DC. What I do care about is the fact that the man has no intelligence experience whatsoever. He is supposedly qualified because he has been a “Consumer of intelligence”, well I’ve been a consumer of Basketball and Football, that hardly means I am qualified to be the NFL or NBA comissioner, or does it?
The White House’s nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, has earned more than $700,000 in speaking and consulting fees since the beginning of 2008, with some of the payments coming from troubled financial firms and from a firm that invests in contractors for federal national security agencies, according to financial disclosures released Wednesday.
Mr. Panetta received $56,000 from Merrill Lynch & Co. for two speeches and $28,000 for a speech for Wachovia Corp., according to disclosures released ahead of Thursday’s scheduled Senate hearing on Mr. Panetta’s nomination.
Both Merrill and Wachovia reported big losses last year and were acquired by larger firms. The Wachovia honorarium was dated Oct. 30, and the last Merrill Lynch honorarium was dated Oct. 11, according to disclosure forms filed by Mr. Panetta in connection with his nomination. At the time, Bank of America had agreed to a rescue of Merrill Lynch; Wachovia had agreed to be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co.
Mr. Panetta also received a $28,000 honorarium from the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm that owns companies doing business with national-security agencies of the U.S. government. Carlyle holds a majority stake in the government consulting arm of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., which works for the CIA and other agencies. A Carlyle spokesman said Mr. Panetta was paid to speak at an investor conference and that the matter was unrelated to Booz Allen or any other defense contractors.
Mr. Panetta also reported receiving a $60,000 “Governmental Advisor Fee” from the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping industry. The group lobbies the federal government regarding terrorism laws that affect shipping. A spokesman for the association didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Panetta is a former Congressman from central California who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. A White House spokesman said Mr. Panetta “provided consulting services on port security issues and some labor issues” to the Pacific Maritime Association. The spokesman said Mr. Panetta was “unaware” if his work was related to lobbying efforts by PMA in Washington that were described in public disclosure forms. Regarding potential conflicts of interest involving his speaking fees from Carlyle and other firms, the spokesman said, “All of his income and investments have been thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics, and he will abide by whatever they require.”
Fleishman Hillard, a large public affairs and lobbying firm, also paid Mr. Panetta $130,000 in director’s fees. Fleishman Vice Chairman Paul Johnson said Mr. Panetta advises firm clients on policy and economic issues but performs “absolutely no lobbying or government relations work.”
Another source of income for Mr. Panetta was California State University, which hosts the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a nonprofit foundation. Last night, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee posed a series of new questions to Mr. Panetta about his finances, according to a Senate aide. The panel is seeking information on his relationship to a nonprofit firm called EduCap Inc. that is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. EduCap and a sister firm donated $50,000 to Mr. Panetta’s institute and provided flights on its corporate jet to Mr. Daschle and other Washington figures.