President Donald Trump has promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, and part of the challenge he faces is keeping it from filling back up again. One of his executive orders aims at doing just that, by imposing bans and restrictions on lobbying.
According to CNBC:
President Donald Trump acted Saturday to fulfill a key portion of his pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington, banning administration officials from ever lobbying the U.S. on behalf of a foreign government and imposing a separate five-year ban on other lobbying.
Trump has said individuals who want to aid him in his quest to “Make America Great Again” should focus on the jobs they will be doing to help the American people, not thinking ahead to the future income they could rake in by peddling their influence after serving in government.
“Most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work,” Trump joked, referring to an array of White House officials who lined up behind him as he sat at his Oval Office desk. The officials included Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior strategist Steve Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway. “So you have one last chance to get out.”
Every political appointee joining the executive branch on or after Jan. 20 — the day Trump took office — must agree to the lobbying bans. That includes avoiding, for five years after leaving, lobbying the agency they worked for.
Another provision sets a two-year period during which appointees must avoid working on issues involving former employers or clients.
Trump is allowed to waive any of the restrictions.
Questions had been raised about how the bans would be enforced. The order says they are “solely enforceable” by the U.S. government “by any legally available means,” including debarment proceeding within any affected executive branch agency, or civil court proceedings.
Former appointees who are found to have violated the ban may also be barred from lobbying their former agency for up to five years, on top of the five-year period covered by the pledge, the executive order states.
Trump said the order supersedes one that President Barack Obama signed on Jan. 21, 2009, that banned anyone from lobbying the government for a period of two years after leaving. Trump said Obama’s order was “full of loopholes.”
It’s interesting to note that Obama, too, signed restrictions on lobbying into law. On his first day in office, he signed legislation barring officials from his administration from lobbying their former colleagues. The following year, special interest spending on lobbying hit an all-time high, while the number of registered lobbyists in Washington “mysteriously” dropped. There were still just as many lobbyists, but they just started dodging registration to avoid bans put in place by Obama. In that sense, his lobbying ban was nothing more than a symbolic gesture. We’re getting an actual lobbying ban this time.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]