Obama Lays Out Ethics Rules
By Chris Cillizza
President-elect Barack Obama today released a series of ethics guidelines for those working in the transition operation, a continuation of the anti-lobbying policies adopted by the Illinois senator during his primary and general election campaigns.
The ethics rules -- no federal lobbyist can raise or contribute money for the transition efforts, no one who has lobbied in the past 12 months can advise the transition on the policy area on which they lobbied, no one involved in the policy work of the transition can lobby on that issue for a calendar year -- were announced by transition co-chair John Podesta during a press briefing for reporters this afternoon. (Full details of the Obama ethics plan for the transition are after the jump.)
Podesta cast the new ethics rules as a leading indicator of what he termed "the most open and transparent transition in history." Podesta added that members of the transition team will sign an ethics code laying out the specific principles announced today.
Asked about reports of tension between President George W. Bush and Obama in their meeting Monday, Podesta demurred, saying only that it was a "private meeting" in which the auto industry as well as plans for an economic recovery package were raised.
Podesta rejected reports that the passage of economic stimulus plan or a package to help the auto industry was part of a proposed legislative exchange for the elimination of Democratic opposition to the Colombia free trade agreement.
"While the topic of Colombia came up, there was no quid pro quo," Podesta asserted. He added that the relations between the current White House and the Obama transition teams have been "collegial" and "cooperative".
Podesta said that Obama had no plans to meet with any of the world leaders coming to town for the G20 gathering this weekend and aimed at addressing the global economic crisis. The president-elect would send an emissary to the meetings but Podesta would not offer any names as to the identity of that liaison.
As for the nuts and bolts of the transition itself, Podesta said that the budget was approximately $12 million with $5.2 million of that coming in appropriations from Congress. The remaining $6.8 million will be raised by the transition operation, according to Podesta.
The total transition staff will reach approximately 450 individuals, said Podesta, adding that beginning Monday a top-to-bottom review of every government agency would begin in an effort to insure "we hit the ground running on Jan. 20 because we don't have a moment to lose."
Podesta offered few specifics about the naming of Cabinet officials other than to indicate that the announcements would likely be made by Obama in Chicago. As for White House senior staff, those announcements "will come out as they are ready to be announced."
Obama Ethics Rules
* Federal lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.
* Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.
* If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.
* If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.
* A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.
Posted at 3:39 PM ET on Nov 11, 2008
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