News & Politics

Obama Transition Team Rejects Lobbyists: Why It Matters

Obama issues rules to limit the ability of lobbyists who give his Transition Team advice to make money off it.
The Obama Transition Team has issued rules for lobbyists who want to advise the incoming administration. The rules seek to stop Washington's revolving-door culture where insiders gain access and information inside government, and then use that knowledge to help paying clients accomplish their goals.

According to a press release saying these are "the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history," the guidelines are:

  • Federal Lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

  • Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

  • If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

  • If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

  • A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

It remains to be seen who will grumble about the new lobbyist rules issued Tuesday. Curiously, the Obama transition's press release quoted two well-known Washington centrists who reluctantly praised the policy.

"The ethical guidelines released today for the Obama transition are tough and unequivocal," said Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution. "They will prevent some honorable people with rich experience from serving in the transition. That is a real cost but it is more than balanced by the strong signal sent by the President-elect. He aspires to attract to government able individuals whose highest priority is to serve the public interest. This is a very constructive step in that direction."
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