On Wednesday, the Trump camp unveiled a sweeping lobbyist ban for anybody who wants to join the team – though he’s reportedly already having trouble finding qualified people to staff the executive branch. The new rules will prohibit anyone who works in the Trump administration from lobbying for any part of the government for five years after leaving the public sector.
Trump ran on a promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington and take lobbyists out of politics, and the new guidelines are unprecedented in their scope. They’re much stricter than the rules under Obama, who was the first president to enact a lobbyist ban.
Anybody who wants to work in either Trump’s transition team or administration will now be asked to take this pledge:
By signing below I hereby certify that I am not currently registered and reporting as a federal lobbyist as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act as amended or as a compensated lobbyist at the state level in any state. If I was listed as lobbyist in the most recent lobbying disclosure forms or reported to be filed by federal or state law, I hereby notify the president-elect’s transition team that I have filed the necessary forms to the appropriate government agency to terminate my [lobbying registration]. I will provide the transition team with written evidence of my federal or state lobbyist termination as soon as possible.
Under President Obama, anyone who left his administration was prohibited from lobbying their former agency for two years, though they were still allowed to lobby different sectors of the government. But whereas Obama insisted that members of his team refrain from lobbying for a year prior to joining him, Trump has no such rules. New Trump administration members are allowed to lobby right up until they start government work, and are only then asked to sever ties.
According to Trump spokesperson Sean Spicer, “The key thing for this administration is going to be that people going out of government won’t be able to use that service to enrich themselves.”
In a further sign of the recent disarray in Trump’s transition team, Politico reports that multiple lobbyists who currently work for Trump claimed that they did not know about the new policy and were surprised to learn that they would have to curtail their lobbying efforts. Though, even with lobbyist bans, it is not uncommon in Washington for “lobbyists” to simply change their title to “consultant” or “adviser” and continue plying their trade.