Credo Action

Tell President Obama: Don’t back down on lobbyist ban

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Petition to President Obama:

"Don’t back down to corporate lobbyists. Preserve your strong executive orders and presidential directives restricting the ability of former lobbyists to serve in a presidential administration."

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    Tell President Obama: Don’t back down on lobbyist ban

    On President Obama’s first day in office, he issued executive orders placing strict limits on former lobbyists trying to work in his administration. While the revolving door between government and the private sector continues to plague our democracy, the ban on lobbyists was a huge step in the right direction that has resulted in less outright or criminal corruption.1

    But now, a non-partisan group assisting with the presidential transitions is pushing President Obama to roll back his strict rules on lobbyists in the administration.2 Ending the lobbyist ban now would be seen as an admission of defeat and set a horrible precedent for the next president. We can’t let that happen.

    Tell President Obama: Don’t back down on the lobbyist ban.

    Here’s why ending the presidential administration lobbyist ban is bad idea:

    • It will make things worse. While too many Obama appointees from Wall Street has hurt the administration’s policies, the Obama years have been relatively free of corruption or conflict-of-interest scandals.3 Repealing the ban opens the door to bad policy and big scandals.

    • It’s unnecessary. There is no proof that the restriction on hiring lobbyists has made it harder to hire talented people, as opponents claim.4 The biggest problem with hiring for administration positions is Senate Republicans’ absolute refusal to confirm nominees for essential roles.

    • It’s counter-productive. The lobbyist ban has helped change the corporate-friendly narrative that only lobbyists are smart and knowledgeable enough to do a good job in government. Instead, it is proving that there are plenty of talented people outside of lobbying, and undermining the myth that keeps lobbyists in charge.

    The lobbyist ban is no silver bullet. There are still massive loopholes in the current rules that allow lobbyists to do the same work under a different name, among others. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has rightly pointed out that even people who aren’t lobbyists bring dangerous outlooks and connections when they move back and forth from industry to government. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bill, endorsed by Sen. Warren and Sec. Clinton, that would close the revolving door.5 The next president should be supporting these efforts and closing executive loopholes – not starting from scratch with no lobbyist ban in place.

    Tell President Obama: Don’t back down on the lobbyist ban.

    President Obama’s “lobbyist ban” is made up of a handful of executive orders and “presidential directives,” or ethics guidelines for the administration to follow. The president has full authority to institute or repeal these rules without Congress.6 So it’s important to make sure that he hears from the public and not just the Washington elite. With Republicans blocking revolving-door bills in Congress, saving this lobbyist ban is one of the clearest and simplest ways for us to keep corporate Wall Street influence out of government.

    Tell President Obama: Don’t back down on the lobbyist ban.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Sarah Wheaton, “Obama facing pressure to rip up his lobbyist rules,” Politico, August 12, 2016.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Ibid.
    5. Nik DeCosta-Klipa, “Hillary Clinton says she would look to Elizabeth Warren for advice on appointments,” Boston Globe, March 9, 2016.
    6. Wheaton, “Obama facing pressure to rip up his lobbyist rules.”