President Bush's top official for telecommunications policy let lobbyists for wireless companies help pay for a private reception at her home and 10 days later urged a policy change that benefited their industry.
Nancy Victory, an assistant commerce secretary, said she regarded the lobbyists as "friends" and cleared the arrangement in advance with her department's ethics office. She did not report the party, held in 2001, as a gift on her government ethics disclosure form, said news reports.
"My friends paid for this party out of their personal money," Victory told the Associated Press.
Victory said it was "ridiculous" to draw a connection between the party and her letter 10 days later to the FCC urging an immediate end to a decade-old restriction on how much of a region's wireless spectrum a company could control.
Ethics experts disagreed with Victory. "Going ahead with this party seems insensitive to public concern about whether this Bush administration is in the pocket of corporations and lobbyists," said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., who teaches legal and government ethics. "It doesn't look good for her or the administration."
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