July 20 (UPI) -- The Trump administration plans to nominate Raytheon vice president of government relations Mark Esper for secretary of the Army, according to several published reports.
Esper has headed Raytheon's lobbying efforts since 2010. He is a former lieutenant colonel in the Army and a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who has previously served as a administrator on the department of defense and as a national security and legislative advisor for several senators including Chuck Hagel and former Senate Majority leader Bill Frist.
Esper is the third selection made by the administration for the post.
The first pick, Wall Street trader and businessman Vincent VIola, dropped out due to financial entanglements involving federal contracts. Viola is a West Point graduate and former major in the Army Reserves.
The second pick, Tenn. State Senator and former Army flight surgeon Mark Green, withdrew his name after criticism from activists and Democrats for past statements he made on LGBT issues.
Esper would mark another top Department of Defense official to hold deep industry ties that lead to concerns over conflicts of interest. Former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan was confirmed as deputy secretary of defense on Tuesday.
Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., as well as other senators including Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Corey Booker, D-N.J., has expressed opposition to placing industry executives in top defense postings. McCain was absent for Shanahan's confirmation vote due to surgery, and his recent cancer diagnosis makes his role in Esper's confirmation uncertain.