Letter Seeks to Ensure Exclusions Do Not Swallow The Ban on Lobbying
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn requesting clarity on the President's Executive Oder and future actions regarding ethics and lobbying.
In President Trump's address to Congress last week, he stated, "We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials, and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government."
"I share the President's goal to reduce undue influence of lobbyists and special interests in the policymaking process," Bennet wrote in a letter. "I was pleased that he promised to propose ‘a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.'"
Bennet asked the White House counsel to clarify certain aspects of the Order to ensure its exclusions and exceptions don't render it meaningless. "Without greater clarity, I fear that these exclusions will weaken the Order's effectiveness and undermine the President's goal of creating a more accountable and transparent government," Bennet wrote.
Specifically, Bennet sought clarity on the following provisions:
- During the campaign, the President said he would create a "ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for five years after they leave government service." However, his Order only prohibits appointees from lobbying the agencies in which they previously served. Bennet asked if the Administration intends to expand this aspect of the Order to cover the government more broadly and fulfill its campaign promise.
- The Order eliminates a provision from President Obama's ethics order that prohibited lobbyists from joining the agency they previously lobbied. Bennet asked the Administration to explain why it eliminated this language and if it intends to update the order with this section.
- While the Order uses the phrase "lobbying activities" rather than the more narrow definition of "lobbyist," the Order contains significant exclusions to the term. Bennet asked the Administration how these exclusions will work as they may undermine the intent of the Order's prohibitions.
- When determining whether to issue a waiver to the Order, Bennet asked if the Administration intends to use the standard in President Obama's ethics order or create a new one.
- Bennet asked whether the Administration will continue to make public, in an easily accessible manner, information about each waiver granted.
Click HERE to read the letter in its entirety.