After a decade working for Lockheed Martin on defense budget matters and getting a handsome $1.6 million buyout, Ann Sauer is taking her expertise -- or influence -- back to Capitol Hill.
ProPublica reports on Sauer's long journey through the Washington revolving door, from Senate staff to corporate big wig and now back to the Senate.
The inference, of course, is whose interests she will be looking after. Lockheed and other defense contractors, or taxpayers. Interesting that Sen. John McCain hired her to head the Republicans staff on the SASC. Lockheed execs are not big fans of McCain given his leading role in terminating the F-22 program and his staunch criticism of the company (and Pentagon's) efforts in development of the F-35.
But McCain has also been one of the loudest proponents of halting the automatic defense budget cuts if the sequestration law takes effect in 2013.
At the moment, the stakes for Lockheed in Washington are even higher than usual, with the company leading the military contracting industry's charge to convince Congress to avoid a $492 billion, 9-year cut in military spending set to be triggered in January.
As staff director for the minority on the Senate committee, Sauer has an important role in the battle over the possible military budget cuts. The committee regularly makes decisions that determine the fate of Lockheed's business.
There is no law barring lobbyists from entering public service on Capitol Hill. But Ben Freeman, national security investigator at the Project on Government Oversight who wrote about Sauer Thursday, says that the presence of a former Lockheed executive in a key position overseeing the company is cause for concern.
"Some of the biggest issues in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee right now deal directly with Lockheed Martin programs," Freeman says. "These are big-dollar programs that are going through some troubles and need some oversight."
One example is Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has been plagued by cost overruns and other problems.