President Donald Trump has taken another bold step in his plan to drain the swamp. Patriots everywhere are likely cheering Trump’s latest executive order.
A five-year lobbying ban has been officially signed by President Trump. No longer can an administration staffer leave his or her post and begin raking in the dough lobbying to help a group or business further its agenda, via Breitbart.
“So this is a five year lobbying ban, and this is all of the people — most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work,” President Trump said after signing the lobbying ban order.
The president expressed his problems with the current law on the practice. “It’s a two year ban now, and it’s got full of loopholes, and this is a five year ban. So you have one last chance to get out.”
Donald Trump vowed to enact this ban while on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton never uttered any plan to thwart top level staffers from leaving their posts and then using their powerful contacts to make tons of money — her Wall Street donors would have hated it.
President Trump’s five-year lobbying ban also places a lifetime ban on administration staff going to work lobbying for a foreign entity. A collective groan was likely heard throughout Washington upon realizing wining and dining Trump officials would never curry them favor after the 45th president leaves office.
Trump just redefined what it means to be a public servant. Positions of such importance should never be used as a stepping stone to share privileged information with the highest bidder. READ MORE
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 orderfrom 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.”
Mississippi Sen. 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, a longtime Louisiana senator.
Obama issued ethics waivers for some officials, and Trump’s executive order retained that ability but removed the requirement to disclose them. That opens the door to the White House departing from the policy without public scrutiny or political consequences; the White House could claim any apparent violation had been exempted.
Trump’s original “Drain the Swamp” plan promised to close the loopholes in the Lobbying Disclosure Act that people frequently use to influence policy without disclosing their activities. Doing so would take congressional action. But his executive order did go so far as to use the more expansive definition of “lobbying activities,” which includes preparing and strategizing for contacts that other people make, so it goes further than only restricting registered lobbyists.
White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino didn’t answer a request for comment.
“What Trump has created is a system that incentivizes shadow lobbyists because former government employees who did not become registered lobbyists previously still had a two-year waiting period to communicate with employees of their former agency which they no longer do,” Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement. “One of today’s great Washington scams is former government officials running lobbying operations and attempting to affect official policy while claiming they do not technically qualify as ‘lobbyists.’ Such conduct remains unaddressed. Trump is just skimming the surface of the swamp.”
The executive order also made good on Trump’s promise to ban his officials from lobbying for foreign governments.
“If you want to come work in this administration, you can’t seek to profit from this administration,” a senior administration official said.
Trump’s transition initially considered a tougher ethics pledge prepared by Eisen and Painter but abandoned the proposal after Vice President Mike Pence took over the transition team from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The transition also backslid on applying similar rules to its officials, who are allowed to resume lobbying after six months. And several campaign aides, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, sidestepped the restrictions by going straight to K Street.
The watchdog Group Public Citizen questioned the administration’s commitment to ethics, given the president’s refusal to divest from his business ties and his cabinet appointees’ conflicts of interest.
“There’s every reason to expect this administration will be the most scandal-ridden in history, and today’s executive action does nothing to change that,” Robert Weissman, the group’s president, said in a statement.