Saturday, November 19, 2016

Is Trumpy-the-Clown Banning Lobbyists From Government? (I Have A Nice Bridge For Sale In The Dumbo Area Of Brooklyn)


The Trump crew announced new rules that are meant to show he is indeed draining the swamp, even as his administration takes form as the swampiest in American history. Just as he was announcing the appointment of crackpot Michael Flynn-- a highly paid sleaze ball lobbyist for Turkey who's considered way to close to Putin for comfort-- to his top national security position Team Trump announced that his political appointees will be banned from ever lobbying for a foreign government-- yes, a lifetime ban forever and ever and ever. Or face the wrath of Trumpy-the-Clown. All Trumpy-the-Clown appointees will be barred from registering to lobby for 5 years after leaving the employ of T-t-C. Nor will they be able to be employed in any capacity by a foreign government. So sayeth T-t-C. (The lifetime ban isn't legal-- but it looks good to T-t-C voters.)

Sean Spicer, a hack from the RNC, told the media that "what's crucial to understand about this lobbying ban is instead of looking back, it looks forward. The focus on this is to ensure service to the nation is truly first. And that the ability... to enrich themselves is not at the heart of this. Trump[y-the-Clown] again continues to talk about the change he’s bringing to Washington. This is true forward-thinking change." It also allows for the hiring of hundreds of sleaze ball lobbyists now because we're only talking about the unenforceable future, not the present when Trumpy-the-Clown could actually accomplish anything, although all lobbyists have to deregister before they start their service to His Trumpness.

Megan Wilson is one of the reporters covering the T-t-C ethics beat for The Hill and she speculates., innocently, that "Trump appears poised to expand upon the ethics rules that Obama put in place after winning the White House in 2008."
The executive order signed by Obama in his first day in office banned former administration officials from contacting the agency that employed them for two years after they leave government. It also established a conflict-of-interest standard that bars them from lobbying the most senior government officials for the remainder of the administration. Lobbying Capitol Hill, however, is permitted.

It is unclear whether the Trump administration will adopt other ethics policies established by Obama, including one that restricts government officials from receiving gifts from lobbyists and another that discourages meetings between staff and lobbyists at the White House.

In general, Obama also bars officials from working on issues they lobbied on before joining the administration, if they had been a registered lobbyist working on those issues in the two years before their hire.

Trump’s team has not said whether that policy will stay, but Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer told reporters on Thursday that the ban “looks forward,” rather than “looking back.”

...[Grotesquely corrupt] Lawmakers in general are skeptical of lobbying and ethics reforms. Even in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal-- a lobbyist who was jailed for four years after a corruption investigation-- Capitol Hill was hesitant to pass major ethics reforms.

In 2007, Congress did strengthen disclosure requirements by requiring lobbyists to report their activities more frequently. The also voted to increase penalties for violating the law, among other changes.

But little has happened since then, with lawmakers reluctant to restrict their own opportunities for employment after leaving Congress.

Trump’s ethics rules could drive the lobbying industry further underground.

On the federal level, a lobbyist is a person who spends 20 percent or more of their time during a three-month period trying to influence the government on behalf of a client, including making more than one contact with an elected official, their staff or very senior administration officials.

If that rule sounds simple to evade, it is. Advocates often call themselves a “consultant,” a “government relations” or “public affairs” professional, or a “strategic adviser,” while staying below the 20 percent threshold requiring registration.

The trend began under Obama, with the number of registered lobbyists dropping from 14,824 in 2008 to 11,504 in 2015. The numbers could drop further during the next administration, according to the Center fore Responsive Politics.

Trump, like Obama, could find that his ethics rules make it harder to fill positions in the administration.

Despite the prestige of working in the administration, many lobbyists might not be willing to work for Trump if it means largely putting their careers on hold for five years.
  The T-t-C rules can-- at best-- be summed up as "cutting out the middleman." Instead of lobbyists, just put (retired) CEOs and billionaires in charge, the folks who usually employ the lobbyists.

It's worth mentioning that in December of 1992, after Bill Clinton was first elected president, Gwen Ifill reported that "President-elect Bill Clinton's transition team today proposed a five-year ban on lobbying by senior political appointees after they leave the Government. The proposals released today by Mr. Clinton's transition director, Warren M. Christopher, would also ban officials from lobbying as agents of a foreign government for life and would especially bar Government trade negotiators from going to work for any foreign governments or businesses for five years after leaving the Administration." How'd that work out?

In December of 2000, reporting for the Washington Post, John Mintz pointed out that as he was leaving office one of the last things Clinton did was to reverse that executive order. "President Clinton yesterday revoked an executive order he signed on his first day in office in 1993 that barred senior officials of the White House and other agencies from lobbying former colleagues for five years. Lifting the five-year ban on lobbying means Clinton's top subordinates, those currently in government and those who have left, as well as appointees in the incoming George W. Bush administration, can start lobbying their former agencies after one year from their last day on the job. The one-year ban is contained in a 1978 law that still has force." It also helped account for this chart of sleaze. Notice of course who's way, way, way up on the top of the shit-heap, the one whose campaign Comey wrecked:

This is the official Trumpy-the-Clown pledge that all sleazy lobbyists might sign before they get onto the government payroll-- and crossing fingers behind one's back is strictly prohibited:
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.

Swamp in need of draining

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