Heather Wilson, swamp creature
Donald Trump started the year without a nominee for the position of secretary of the Air Force. On January 13, the president-elect met the CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson, at his Florida residence. On January 23, the White House announced that Heather Wilson was the nominee for secretary of the Air Force. This is a big unforced error for the Trump administration.
Wilson did attend the United States Air Force Academy, graduating in 1982. She then completed a Ph.D. in international relations at Oxford in 1985, followed by a position as a negotiator for the U.S. Air Force in the U.K. and as a planning officer for NATO in Belgium. In 1989, Wilson resigned as a captain in the USAF to join the staff of the National Security Council.
There is no evidence that Wilson took any interest in the vanquishing-of-enemies aspect of the USAF's mission while she served. In fact, she did receive a prize from the Red Cross for a treatise entitled "International Law and the Use of Force by National Liberation Movements."
Wilson represented New Mexico's 1st district in Congress from June 25, 1998 to January 3, 2009. She attempted to be elected to the U.S. Senate representing New Mexico in 2008 but lost in the Republican primary. In 2012, she tried again, winning in the primary but losing in the general election. In her 14 years of politics, Lockheed Martin and its employees had been Wilson's largest contributor, donating $109,000. But that is dwarfed by the consulting arrangement with Lockheed Martin that started in January 2009, straight after she left Congress.
Lockheed Martin managed a number of nuclear labs that gave Wilson $10,000-per-month retainers that earned her consulting company $464,203. A whistleblower brought these payments to the attention of the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General. The upshot of the investigation was that Lockheed Martin repaid the department $442,887. Wilson got to keep the close to half a million dollars she had been paid for doing next to nothing.
This episode demonstrates a couple of things. First, Wilson has considerable moral and ethical flexibility. Second, Wilson owes Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is the USAF's biggest contractor, including the biggest military contract of all time for the F-35.
Heather Wilson is a very bad choice for secretary of the Air Force. She is straight out of the D.C. swamp. If she is appointed, Lockheed Martin's circa $600,000 investment in her will have a payoff in the tens of billions. The Trump administration should be starting the search for someone to replace her as the nominee. Pray that she doesn't get appointed.
David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare.