Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee issued the following statement today in response to President Joe Biden’s anticipated executive order aimed at enhancing government ethics and lobbying rules:
“President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear. As one of his first official acts, he will issue an executive order to strengthen federal executive branch ethics rules. This order is desperately needed, coming at a time when public trust in government and elected officials remains troublingly low.
“While we await final details, the new Biden ethics rules build on the executive order issued by President Barack Obama and go further to close the ‘shadow lobbying’ loophole that allows senior-level staffers to lobby without having to register their activity. While we are encouraged that these stronger ethical standards will bolster faith in our democracy, we are concerned that the new rules do not outline how the Biden Administration will avoid conflicts of interest with relation to members of the Biden family. We at Issue One will continue to hold our public officials — including the Biden Administration — to the high bar needed at this moment to build public confidence in our government.
“As Issue One noted four years ago, we had serious concerns about some of the changes President Donald Trump made to the ethics rules he inherited. That President Trump rescinded his own ethics order on lobbying at the eleventh hour speaks volumes as to his true commitment to high ethical standards. So much for ‘draining the swamp.’
“Now is the time to restore confidence in our sacred institutions and to imagine, as a nation, a new path forward. Our work begins anew.”
Under the new executive order expected to be signed by President Biden, officials leaving the administration will be prohibited from lobbying the White House during Biden’s presidency and those who depart during the end of Biden’s time in office would be barred from lobbying positions for two years. It would also close the “shadow lobbying” loophole, a practice that refers to senior level staffers who participate in activities tantamount to lobbying but without the requirement to register as a lobbyist.