Obama Stops Short of Strict Ban on Lobbyists
As part of the "most open and transparent" presidential transition in history, President-elect Barack Obama will bar lobbyists with conflicts of interest from working to help install the Illinois Democrat in the White House, his team announced today.
The ethics rules, designed to prohibit lobyists from advising the transition team on issues they have worked on recently, were announced by the Obama transition team's co-chairman, John Podesta, during an afternoon press conference, The Fix's Chris Cillizza reports.
Still, the rules fall short of the tough talk Obama doled out regarding lobbyists on the campaign trail, including that lobbyists don't represent "real America."
During a speech last November in Spartanburg, S.C., Obama said: "I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race. I don't take a dime of their money, and when I am president, they won't find a job in my White House."
In this YouTube video, check out minute 14:26 for Obama's comment
The transition team will have an estimated $12 million budget and a staff of about 450 people, Bloomberg reports. Around $5.2 million will come from federal appropriations and the rest from private sources, Podesta said, but contributions will be limited to $5,000 and political action committee money won't be accepted. Obama's transition team has begun working in an office space in downtown Washington provided by the General Services Administration, The Hill reports.
The new ethics rules, while not a strict decree against lobbyists, will be a sign of things to come, according to The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "There is not a blanket ban on federal lobbyists playing a role in the administration, Podesta said, but noted that there will be strict guidance on what role they can play."
There is some skepticism about Obama's K Street limits and his transition team's movements.
Jeanne Cummings of Politico said lobbyists received "mixed signals" from the Obama camp about whether they could get a job in his administration.
"Many were surprised to hear on the final weekend of the campaign that they actually can get a posting in the Obama White House," Cummings wrote. "They just won't get jobs related to an issue they advocated for on Capitol Hill."
John Walcott, McClatchy Co.'s Washington bureau chief, said Obama has exerted "extraordinary control" over news about his transition team, "as if they've signed a 'loyalty oath' of silence. It will be difficult for us to cover a man who made history. It's hard not to buy into his 'hope' theme; it'll be a challenge," he said.
By Derek Kravitz |
November 11, 2008; 5:35 PM ET
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