Appointees to President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will be required to sign a form barring them from being a registered lobbyist for five years after they leave government service. Fox News reports that Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer told reporter Wednesday that the prohibition would help to ensure people won’t be able to use government service “to enrich themselves.”
In addition, Spicer announced that Trump transition team members would be barred from lobbying about the issues they had worked on for six months after their departure.
The new policies are aimed at curbing the influence of lobbyists. During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed to institute a five-year lobbying ban for all departing members of Congress and their staff, in addition to executive branch officials.
Draining the swamp is an integral part of Trump’s Contract With the American Voter — his plan for the first hundred days of his presidency. The contract includes four items related to draining the swamp, or as Conway put it today, ending the corruption gravy train. First there are three things Trump’s contract says he will do on day one of his presidency:
- FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
- FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
- SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
In addition, one of the 10 bills he will have introduced during the first 100 days is the Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. That legislation will enact new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
During an interview broadcast on Sunday’s edition of “Fox News Sunday,” Kellyanne Conway who was President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager, said Trump will stay true to his swamp-draining campaign promises. She told host Chris Wallace that “the gravy train is about to have its wheels blown off” when Trump assumes the presidency.
Trump’s original Chris Christie-led transition team was packed with lobbyists and interest advocates. In recent days, Trump put Vice President-elect Mike Pence in charge of the transition, and Pence has ordered all lobbyists be removed from Trump’s transition team:
Pence is “making good on President-elect Trump’s promise that we’re not going to have any lobbyists involved with the transition efforts,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said Wednesday. “And this is, when we talk about draining the swamp, this is one of the first steps. And so, the bottom line is, we’re going to get the transition team where we need it to be.”
During the “60 Minutes” Trump interview that aired Sunday, Trump said he’d had no choice but to initially rely on lobbyists in Washington because “the whole place is one big lobbyist.” He vowed to “phase that out.” Here’s the exchange:
Lesley Stahl: You said that lobbyists owned politicians because they give them money.
Donald Trump: Yeah.
Lesley Stahl: You admitted you used to do it yourself. You have a transition team—
Donald Trump: And when you say lobbyists, lobbyists and special interests.
Lesley Stahl: And you want to get rid of all of that?
Donald Trump: I don’t like it, no.
Lesley Stahl: You don’t like it, but your own transition team, it’s filled with lobbyists.
Donald Trump: That’s the only people you have down there.
Lesley Stahl: You have lobbyists from Verizon, you have lobbyists from the oil gas industry, you have food lobby.
Donald Trump: Sure. Everybody’s a lobbyist down there–
Lesley Stahl: Well, wait
Donald Trump: That’s what they are. They’re lobbyists or special interests—
Lesley Stahl: On your own transition team.
Donald Trump:–we are trying to clean up Washington. Look–
Lesley Stahl: How can you claim–
Donald Trump: Everything, everything down there– there are no people– there are all people that work — that’s the problem with the system, the system. Right now, we’re going to clean it up. We’re having restrictions on foreign money coming in, we’re going to put on term limits, which a lot of people aren’t happy about, but we’re putting on term limits. We’re doing a lot of things to clean up the system. But everybody that works for government, they then leave government and they become a lobbyist, essentially. I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist.
Lesley Stahl: But you’re, but you’re basically saying you have to rely on them, even though you want to get rid of them?
Donald Trump: I’m saying that they know the system right now, but we’re going to phase that out. You have to phase it out.
This is encouraging. Stahl called out Trump for having lobbyists included in his transition Team, and even though Conway had mounted a defense of using lobbyists, within days Trump sent in Mike Pence to clean house. It gives me hope that perhaps Trump will stand by his Contract With the American Voter.