Pentagon hires former lobbyist for Peter Thiel's company

Pentagon hires former lobbyist for Peter Thiel's company
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The Department of Defense has hired a former lobbyist for the Peter Thiel-founded data company Palantir.

Justin Mikolay will serve as a special assistant to Defense Secretary James Mattis, BuzzFeed reported Thursday. In the position, Mikolay will help prepare Mattis for meetings foreign and White House officials.

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At Palantir, Mikolay worked as an “evangelist” the firm’s title employees who met with the government to pitch them on their software.

Mikolay had played a major part in Palantir's ongoing efforts to get a $200 million contract on the Army’s battlefield intelligence system.

At the Pentagon, he will avoid working on anything directly related to Palantir, a spokesman said.

“Mr. Mikolay took action to ensure he would not participate in any matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on Palantir, consistent with conflict of interest statutes and government ethics regulations,” Defense Department spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis told BuzzFeed News in a statement.

“Further, he worked with the DoD Standards of Conduct Office to implement a screening arrangement to ensure all particular matters involving Palantir are forwarded to another senior defense official for appropriate disposition. Such recusals are not uncommon for civilian appointees who have worked previously in the private sector.”

Mikolay had previously worked at the Pentagon before Palantir, serving as a speechwriter to then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.