Lockheed and Pentagon Conflict of Interest

On Wednesday, January 3, the United States Senate confirmed John Rood as the under secretary of Defence on policy, following the Senate Armed Services Committee approval of his nomination in late November. Rood, formerly the Vice President Of Lockheed Martin International, previously served in official roles during the George W. Bush administration. This confirmation, however, puts him in his most influential role to date- the pentagon’s top policy position.

The senate voted 81-7 in favor of confirming Rood for the job. The opposing votes were comprised of Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), with no republicans opposing the confirmation. Though the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of appointing Rood to the policy position, the confirmation hearing itself was less than smooth sailing.

Rood’s ties and relationship to Lockheed Martin, the American based, globally interested aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company where he held leadership positions, posed serious questions regarding conflicts of interest. Rood agreed to the ethics pledge that required him to disengage himself from Lockheed Martin in a decision making capacity for two years and divest from the company. However, when Sen. Warren asked Rood if he would seek a waiver that would allow him to engage officially with the company as under secretary, he seemed willfully unable to confirm or deny it with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who ultimately voted to confirm Rood to the high-ranking pentagon role, said that he was “really ducking the answer here” in response to questions about his intent to seek such a waiver.

Ultimately, despite concerned questions and comments from senators on both sides of the political aisle, John Rood’s appointment as the pentagon’s under secretary of Defense was overwhelmingly supported when it came time for the votes to be cast. With a majority of the democratic senate in favor, and the unanimous support of republican senators, it would seem that the senate as a whole is both concerned about, and simultaneously in favor of John Rood’s confirmation.