Nov. 17, 2016
Trump’s Lobbying Ban Won’t Stop the Real Conflicts of Interest in His Administration
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced a five-year lobbying ban for appointees leaving his administration and that he will deny jobs to federal and state lobbyists. However, Trump has not clearly defined “lobbyists” who would be subject to the restrictions and has sent mixed messages. On one hand, Trump has hinted at using a broad definition to include influence-peddlers beyond registered lobbyists. On the other hand, he is bringing in titans of industry onto his transition team and for placement in his administration.
The five-year lobbying ban is constructive, but Trump desperately needs to address the blatant conflicts of interest posed by the titans of industry he is bringing into his circle. Trump needs to preserve a version of President Barack Obama’s ethics Executive Order that requires incoming administration officials to sign an ethics pledge that they will not take official actions that directly and substantially affect their former employers or clients.
Public Citizen would prefer tough revolving door rules for non-lobbyists with conflicts. If the president-elect is truly serious about “draining the swamp,” we expect him to deal with his own profound conflicts of interest by establishing a true blind trust and to stop the flood of secret campaign money currently filling the swamp.