Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has said he may hold up the nomination of William J. Lynn III as Deputy Defense Secretary due to concerns about his past performance at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the potential conflict of interest presented by Lynn's experience as a lobbyist for Raytheon.  Supporters of Lynn's nomination have said he is uniquely qualified for the position, and that moreover, that industry experience makes him more qualified.  There also seems to be a sentiment that there wasn't anywhere else for him to go to after leaving the Clinton Administration -- if he wanted to make a decent living -- except to a defense contractor.

But today's news that former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark is the new co-chairman of Growth Energy demonstrates those arguments are bunk.  And on the other side of the aisle, former Energy Department Deputy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow disproved this Washington myth when he became President and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

When Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Lynn to explain how he would make sure that his experience at Raytheon didn't conflict with his work at DoD, he said that he would recuse himself for a year, but only from the six programs that he personally lobbied on—even though he supervised all of Raytheon's lobbying activities.  President Obama's Ethics Commitments Executive Order was designed to destroy the modus operandi of using public service for private gain, indicating he understands the ethical problems presented by the revolving door. It's not clear that Lynn does. Clark and McSlarrow demonstrate that public servants can still lead profitable lives after public service without using their government position to do so.