Issue One urges lawmakers to strengthen, not weaken, lobbying restrictions on former Pentagon officials

Issue One on Wednesday sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees opposing a new Pentagon proposal to weaken post-employment lobbying restrictions on former senior Pentagon officials in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

“Allowing former senior Pentagon officials to take information they received and the relationships they developed as public servants and use that for the benefit of private interests is bad public policy,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “This kind of swampy behavior causes Americans to distrust our political system.”

Issue One’s letter — which was addressed to Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) — explained that the Pentagon’s proposal would decrease the public’s confidence in our government. 

“The [Pentagon’s] proposal would flout the purpose of our ethics laws — to prevent undue influence, corruption, and the appearance of corruption. In fact, the current lobbying restrictions on former senior officials do not work well enough to achieve these purposes, and as such, should be strengthened, not weakened,” the letter stated.

It continued: “Congress should be working to strengthen — not weaken — ethics laws. At a time when public confidence in the government, including the Department of Defense, is critical, individuals with outsized influence should not be able to seek favored treatment based on their personal connections and the information they gained serving as public officials.”

Read the full letter here.