The Senate Armed Services Committee voted today to advance the nomination of Lockheed Martin executive John Rood, tapped to be under secretary of defense for policy, despite concerns lawmakers voiced over his potential conflicts of interest.
During Rood's Nov. 16 confirmation hearing, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (RAZ) accused him of "ducking" Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) questions about how he would recuse himself from both decisions and policy discussions involving Lockheed.
Rood said he would recuse himself for two years from any matters that could affect Lockheed's financial health, as is required by the White House ethics pledge.
But, "if you're describing a policy matter such as how the United States should have a relationship with another country in the arms area or cooperation between our air forces, the answer is I would be involved in that," he said. "But that would not pose a conflict of interest."
The answer wasn't good enough for Warren, who said her concerns stem from Rood's work as senior vice president of Lockheed Martin International, which included "developing and executing strategies to grow Lockheed Martin's international business," according to the biography he provided the committee.
"In other words, you were responsible for selling Lockheed's products to other countries," she said. "In your new role, you will be responsible for developing defense policy, including overseeing policy on foreign military sales to those very same countries."
McCain also said he was dissatisfied with Rood's response and directed him to submit additional written testimony to the committee to assure lawmakers he would avoid ethically problematic conduct.
A committee staffer said Rood submitted additional answers “and clarified that in the event that a waiver was necessary to promote national security or U.S. interests, he would seek the approval of the secretary and notify the committee.”
The nomination of Randall Schriver, picked to be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs, also advanced through the committee today.