Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An End to the “Revolving Door”

President-elect Barack Obama imposed strict new ethics rules on the transition team yesterday, restricting what work former lobbyists can do for the team and barring registered lobbyists from donating to the transition or to inaugural events.

Transition team co-chair John Podesta characterized the policy as "the strictest ethics rules ever applied."

Across the country, national leaders and ethics experts praised the decision.

"As a professor who has taught a class on Lobbying and Ethics for many years, I want to commend President-elect Barack Obama for his historic new ethics rules," American University Professor James A. Thurber said. "His campaign pledge to change the way Washington works with the lobbying industry became a reality yesterday....The new ethics rules are great for our democracy."

Fred Wertheimer, president of the non-partisan watchdog group Democracy 21, told USA Today that the rules are unique for a president-elect.

"[The rules are] unlike anything that I have seen at the transition stage in 35 years," he said.

At a press conference, a reporter asked Podesta about complaints from lobbyists who claim they have relevant expertise and say the policy leaves them "out in the cold."

"So be it," Podesta said, adding that the President-elect intends to enforce this policy in his administration so that the "revolving door ceases to exist."

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution agreed, saying it's a worthwhile price to pay.

"They will prevent some honorable people with rich experience from serving in the transition," he said. "That is a real cost but it is more than balanced by the strong signal sent by the President-elect."

Read the new ethics rules here.
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