Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday called for tighter restrictions on Washington’s revolving door, proposing a five-year ban on members of Congress and executive branch officials who want to become lobbyists after leaving government.
Trump also proposed a lifetime ban on senior executive branch officials from lobbying for foreign governments, and called on Congress to reform campaign finance laws to prevent lobbyists who work for foreign governments from raising money for U.S. elections.
The move appears to be in response to revelations from hacked internal Clinton campaign emails, released from the group WikiLeaks, showing that senior Clinton campaign officials in 2015 debated whether the campaign should accept money raised by lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments. The internal discussions appeared to result in accepting the money.
Trump also took aim at a loophole in federal lobbying law that allows people who spend less than 20 percent of their time lobbying to call themselves something other than a lobbyist, such as a consultant or adviser.
“I am going to expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisers when we all know they are lobbyists,” Trump said in a speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that focused on government ethics.
Changing the definition of a lobbyist would require congressional action.
Trump’s proposals go well beyond current ethics rules governing former lawmakers and administration officials who become lobbyists, known as the “cooling off period.” Under current law, former House members must wait one year before they can lobby Congress, and former senators must wait two years. Executive branch officials must wait either two years or one year before lobbying their former agency, depending on how senior they were.
Notably, Trump’s proposals focus on government officials and lawmakers joining the lobbying industry, but do not address rules that would apply to lobbyists joining the administration – a question on many lobbyists’ minds.
President Barack Obama largely barred lobbyists from working in the administration, though the White House ended up issuing several waivers to allow lobbyists to serve. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has not indicated whether her administration would continue the so-called lobbyist ban, but some signs indicate she may be more open to allowing lobbyists to participate in some way. Lobbyists have raised millions of dollars for her campaign, and the Democratic National Committee earlier this year lifted its ban on lobbyist donations.