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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.

Read more by Chris Cillizza at The Fix

By Lexie Verdon  |  November 11, 2008; 3:39 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , B_Blog , The Fix  
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Comments

If I understand it correctly he is not saying that those who lobby cannot advise, only that they cannot themselves lobby and advise at the same time. In other words they cannot pay to have their advice put in place.

Posted by: whathefox | November 13, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: GlenJordan | November 13, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Well, we can clearly see that President Elect Obama is as steady in his preparation, and as clear in his ideas as his speech and thought were in the campaign to those of us who listened !
It is a shame that there are such a large number of the ignorant and fearful religionists who do not listen, do not have any intentions to co-operate, and will do everything they can to block the restoration of our devastated nation.
I am proud to see that we have finally gotten a man with intelligence who listens, thinks, and makes decisions instead of blindly following a puppeteer like Carl Rove ! Go, President Obama ! Yes, we will !

Posted by: donald_mcmunn | November 12, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful start at both a transparent administration and reducing/eliminating the influence of lobbying groups. It would have been dramatic had Senator Obama prevented any lobbyists from participating but perhaps that is simply too much of a talent drain. Well done President-elect Obama.

Posted by: sdexnorva | November 12, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Obama's promise to run an open and transparent White House is already being realized in his transition's opening act. If he hews to the high ethical bar he is setting and conducts the people's business in the light of day we'll witness a new birth of trust in government and a resurgence young people who are inspired to enter public service.

Bruce Mendenhall
Cupertino, CA

Posted by: landsaend | November 12, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 11, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Isn't he shooting himself in the foot by refusing the advice and support of people who lobby? There are experts at Sierra Club who could and should advise him on environmental issues, people at Public Citizen to advise him on automobile industry and consumer issues, etc. etc. Why refuse advice and support from these people just because they exercised their First Amendment rights to tell Congress to do its job?

And why restrict his "ethics" limits to people who lobby? Aren't there people who run corporations that would have a corrupting influence on his transition ... but don't themselves do any lobbying, because they pay other people to do that for them?

Does that mean the CEO of a polluting company could advise the transition team, but not Carl Pope? That a Detroit CEO could give money to the transition effort, but not Joan Claybrook?

Posted by: No11 | November 11, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

What a difference one week makes. Bush has for 8 years demonized all bearded men into terrorists and drew up a witch-hunt list of terrorists.

Obama begins with an ethics stipulation.

Where Republican Bush, the terrorist-imaginer, blames everyone except himself of course, Obama reminds us that honor begins in our own dignity and in our own honesty.

Bush comes from a culture at home in the very deep "South"; Obama grew up internationally worked in Chicago?

Does climate and geography make people black and others white - not very quickly anyway. One thing is certain: Bush had his chance and messed up royally. We are all poorer because of Bush, morally, intellectually and financially. It will take a good decade to forget the nightmare that Republican Bush conjured up in the world. Many people will never recover. They are dead because of his blind inflexibility and lack of humanism.

Posted by: hchiba | November 11, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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