Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson, who left office on Jan. 3, 2009, says she followed House ethics disclosure rules in connection with her end-of-term dealings with Sandia National Laboratories.
No one has disputed her interpretation, making one thing clear: Congress should change the rules.
As the end of her term in the U.S. House of Representatives drew near, on Dec. 8, 2008, Wilson set up her own private company, Heather Wilson and Co. LLC. On Dec. 19, 2008, Sandia National Laboratories issued a proposed contract to pay Wilson’s company $10,000 a month for consulting services.
On Jan. 4, 2009, the day after her term ended, Wilson began work as president of Wilson and Co. – under contract with Sandia. She issued her first invoice to Sandia on Feb. 5, 2009 – retroactive to Jan. 4.
Under House rules, outgoing members can set up post-congressional employment while still serving so long as negotiations don’t start until after their successors are elected. A disclosure form requires notice of “any agreement or arrangement with respect to future employment.” Wilson’s form said her future employment was with her own new company. It did not mention the Sandia contract.
Wilson says congressional rules required her to list her company – because it employed and paid her – but did not require her to list her company’s clients.
Wilson says, “I read (the rules), sought advice on them and fully complied with them, including disclosure with the House Ethics Committee.”