President Donald Trump's much-hyped ban on administration officials becoming lobbyists removed some of President Barack Obama's ethics rules instead of strengthening them.
Trump's ethics pledge, issued as an executive order on Saturday, includes a five-year "lobbying ban" that falls short of its name, preventing officials from lobbying the agency they worked in for five years after they leave, but allowing them to lobby other parts of the government.
The order also lets lobbyists join the administration as long as they don't work on anything they specifically lobbied on for two years. Obama's order from 2009, which Trump revoked, blocked people who were registered lobbyists in the preceding year from taking administration jobs.
"Lobbyists bring special interest baggage with them when they pass through the revolving door to go to work in the very agencies they once lobbied," Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, the last two presidents' ethics lawyers now at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement. "Obama banned this practice but Trump has brought it back."
Obama's order also restricted all administration officials from contacting their former agencies for two years after they leave. Trump changed it back to one year for some 3,000 people — everyone except cabinet-level appointees.
"The single biggest insulation that we had, in retrospect, against scandal in the Obama administration was the two-year exit ban," Eisen said in an interview. "People will pay you to put you on ice for one year and then after that year is up to ply your contacts. But no one wants to pay you to put you in cold storage for two years."
Trent Lott famously resigned from the Senate in 2007 right before a new law would have lengthened his cooling-off period from one year to two. He proceeded to start a highly successful lobbying practice with his former colleague John Breaux.Read More...
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