We have a chance to stop conflicts of interest in government

This letter to the editor originally appeared in USA Today. It is in response to an earlier article about companies lobbying the State Department at Clinton fundraisers. 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both been more than happy to point out the failings of their opponent, especially when it pertains to access, influence and “bad business deals.”

But Americans want answers, not simply accusations. Going into November, voters deserve to know that the professional influence industry doesn’t receive special treatment due to its campaign donations, particularly the $11 million it has raised for Hillary Clinton between July and September. And the unknown amount from Donald Trump who is not disclosing his lobbyist bundlers.

If the Clinton Foundation is “intertwined with the U.S. and global power structure,” as USA TODAY points out in the article “Companies used Clinton fundraisers to lobby State Department,” then she needs to demonstrate her commitment to changing “business as usual” early in her administration. Clinton should sign an executive order restricting lobbyists from bundling contributions to political campaigns and work to reduce the transactional giving that creates conflicts of interest.

Both political parties — and President Obama — have talked about curtailing influence in government. But they’ve produced next to nothing in terms of addressing issues of influence and access.

It’s time for real leadership on this issue in Washington, and a new administration is the best place to start.

Gabriela Schneider