President Barack Obama has a new nominee for general counsel for the Department of the Army, five months after his first nominee withdrew amid questions about his work for mortgage financier Fannie Mae.
The new nominee is Solomon Watson IV, who for 16 years was general counsel to The New York Times Co., a company with First Amendment interests that are at times at odds with the military’s. Watson, who retired from the Times Co. in 2006, served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in Military Police Corps from 1966 to 1968 and was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation medals for service while stationed in Vietnam, the White House said in an announcement late Friday.
Latham & Watkins partner Donald Remy had been nominated for the same position. Remy worked at Fannie Mae from 2000 to 2006, but on a form he submitted to the Senate Remy identified it only as a “major U.S. company.” Republicans began asking questions, and Remy withdrew June 12.
Watson (Howard, Harvard Law) started his career as a Boston associate for what was then Bingham, Dana & Gould. He joined the legal department at the Times in 1974 and became corporate secretary in 1979. He was general counsel from 1989 to 2005, during which he was among the few African-American general counsels for a company in the S&P 500. He was a member of the company’s executive committee.
In other legal-related nominations, the White House announced Paul Sanz, who is general counsel to the House Armed Services Committee, for general counsel to the Department of the Navy; Kathleen Tighe, deputy inspector general at the Agriculture Department, for inspector general to the Department of Education; Orlan Johnson, a partner at Saul Ewing, for chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation; and Sharon Bowen, a partner at Latham & Watkins, for vice chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Click here for the news release.
UPDATE (12:27 p.m.): Johnson was a bundler for Obama's presidential campaign, raising between $200,000 and $500,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Interviewed for a story in Legal Times in October 2008, Johnson said he had worked on several fundraisers, from an event at Washington's Union Station that brought in close to $500,000 to a fundraiser at Oprah Winfrey's Santa Barbara, Calif., home that raised $3 million.