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Ethics watchdogs: Why won’t Trump’s pick for Air Force secretary account for her contractor work?

In one of the letters to the Senate Armed Services Committee, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian questioned whether Wilson could objectively oversee the massive amount of work Lockheed Martin does for the Air Force, considering her past work for the company’s subsidiary at Sandia. Lockheed holds more contracts than any other Air Force contractor.

Brian also urged leaders of the committee to seek assurances from Wilson that she’d be more forthcoming with oversight agencies as Air Force secretary than she was as a paid consultant, when she insisted on withholding details of her work from the entities paying for it at taxpayer expense.

“POGO believes Ms. Wilson should be questioned about her past employment and that the Committee should ensure she commits to an open and transparent relationship with oversight bodies,” Brian wrote. She suggested that the committee ask Wilson why she engaged in business development for Sandia when her contract explicitly forbade it, why she insisted on keeping secret what she was doing, and whether she was aware that government funds were the source of her paychecks.

“Why should taxpayers trust you with their money?” Brian said the lawmakers should ask. “Ms. Wilson should not be confirmed until she has adequately provided the answers to these questions and proven that she does not have a conflict of interest.”

The ethics consortium’s letter drew a harder line.

“As leading organizations promoting ethics and accountability, we strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Heather Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force,” the letter said, citing “Wilson’s questionable actions on behalf of the largest contractor for the Air Force” as “a compelling case for not approving her nomination.”

When President Trump announced Wilson as his choice to head the Air Force on Jan. 23, he said, “Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge, and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation’s Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity.”

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