Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is questioning the propriety of top officials at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) advocating inflation adjustments for defense contractors.

“I am writing regarding my concerns that you and other senior leaders at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), by engaging in efforts in recent months to push for increasing the Department of Defense budget and spending on military contractors, appear to have violated post-government ethics restrictions that prohibit you from lobbying or attempting to influence the Department of Defense,” Warren wrote in an Oct. 5 letter to David Norquist, the president of NDIA.

Warren is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Norquist, the brother of right-wing tax cut guru, Grover Norquist, served as DoD comptroller and deputy defense secretary during the Trump administration and as acting defense secretary for just two days–from Jan. 20 last year until Jan. 22.

“As a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed official you are subject to a number of representational, cooling-off, and lobbying bans, including a two-year ban on influencing employees of the executive branch ‘on behalf of another on matters that were pending under your official responsibility during your last year of federal service,’ and a two-year ban on providing behind-the-scenes lobbying assistance,” Warren wrote Norquist.

“As deputy secretary of defense, your primary responsibilities included managing the defense budget,” the letter said. “Since this was under your official responsibility during you [sic] last year of service, this would appear to bar you from appearing or communicating with executive branch officials on budgetary matters until February 9, 2023. You have received at least six ethics opinions from the Department of Defense advising you about the applicable ethics laws and restrictions on your post-government activities.”

Warrent’s letter references a recent NDIA white paper by Norquist; John Whitley, an NDIA senior fellow and former acting secretary of the Army; and Lisa Disbrow, a former acting secretary of the Air Force and undersecretary of the Air Force, that backs increasing the Pentagon’s budget by $42 billion to $815 billion in fiscal 2023.

“Inflation is out of control but yet is having a huge impact nationwide on those businesses who support our nation’s security but are trapped by the government contracting process,” says the white paper, which supports a congressional mandate for inflation-adjusted contract prices and automatic inflation adjustment clauses in future DoD contracts.

“Both you and Mr. Whitley were explicitly told that restricted lobbying contacts ‘include engaging in oral, written, or electronic communications on behalf of your [prospective] employer with regard to the formulation, modification, or adoption of federal legislation, rules, regulations, executive orders, or any other program, policy or position of the United States government,” per Warren’s letter to Norquist.

“Lobbying contacts also include communications with regard to the administration or execution of a federal program or policy, including the negotiation, award, or administration of a federal contract,” Warren wrote. “You both were also told that ‘restricted lobbying activities means efforts in support of lobbying contacts, including preparation and planning activities, research and other background work that is intended, at the time it is performed, for use in lobbying contacts, and coordination with the lobbying activities of others.'”

“It is difficult to believe that you did not know this [NDIA] white paper would be used to support lobbying contacts,” the letter said.

Defense Daily will update this article with any response received from NDIA on Warren’s letter.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John said recently that inflation is increasing material and supplier costs for prime contractors and creating uncertainty for their suppliers,. The supplier issues are more concerning because companies are becoming reluctant “to engage in long-term contracts,” which typically result in savings that are passed on to the customer, he said.

“What we’re getting back from the supply chain now is that there’s so much uncertainty in their own costs and their own material, that they’re unwilling to do that,” said St. John, adding that the Pentagon and other federal agencies can help by “recognizing that uncertainty and building in clauses in the contracts that will allow for adjustments as those prices come into view down the road.”