On his second day in office, President Barack Obama instituted new rules to limit the influence of special interests in Washington, but in practice the rule changes have had little effect on stemming influence-peddling in Washington, The Washington Post reported
More than 70 Obama appointees have served as lobbyists at some point in their careers, and many returned to the industry after leaving. In addition, at least a dozen former Obama aides have taken positions in the high-tech industry.
Obama signed an ethics executive order
which laid out stringent lobbying limits that prevent any appointees from seeking lobbying jobs while he is president. The rule also outlawed new officials from making policy on any matter involving their former employer or clients for a period of two years, or from working at an agency they lobbied within the past two years.
At the time he said the rules would close "the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests … when they leave."
But some lobbyists have found a way around the rules by de-registering before accepting senior administration posts, including Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, and Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, the Post reported.
All in all, the number of registrations dropped from 13,367 when Obama took office to 11,509 last year, according to an analysis by American University government professor James Thurber, according to the Post. This is said to have opened a back door for advocates to enter the administration or leave and work in related industries.
"After the executive order, there was a wave of examinations of 'gee, do I really need to be a registered lobbyist under the law?'" Jan Baran, a partner at the law firm Wiley Rein specializing in ethics law, told the Post.
Nevertheless, there have been just four waivers to the rules granted since Obama signed the order. And White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the rules have had a major impact on how the government operates.
"Our goal has been to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington — which we've done more than any administration in history," Schultz said in a statement, according to the Post.
The administration has also notably not experienced any conflict-of-interest scandals that previous White Houses have experienced, the Post noted.
Jim Messina, who served as deputy chief of staff during Obama's first term, said that the lobbyist restrictions have meant "a younger, more diverse group of people who have risen to leadership. That will be a fundamental part of his legacy."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.