Geological survey of the United States
In a column this week I recently criticized former President Donald Trump’s pardons, including extra people convicted of various forms of political corruption. For a person who has committed to “draining the swamp,” his pardons show an unprecedented sense of sympathy (and grace) for those who have benefited in public office. These pardons, however, pale in comparison to the contradiction in one of Trump’s final acts as President: lifting his ban on current and former members of his administration from lobbying their respective agencies for five years.
The order required its political representatives to agree to the prohibition of lobbying as a condition of their positions and to undertake not to do any work that would require them to register as a “foreign agent” after leaving the government. It was one of the few actual steps taken to strengthen government ethics in the administration. I have criticized the government for openly embracing nepotism and tolerating violations of the Hatch Act.
The signing of the unilateral revocation of the code of ethics on the Tuesday before his departure was the ultimate act of cynicism. President Bill Clinton signed a similar order on the way to the door. What is so striking is how such politicians openly acknowledge that their previous ethical positions were nothing more than a political ploy.
Biden issued a new rule that puts restrictions on for at least two years after retirement. This is a great start and I hope Biden stays true to the principle throughout his tenure.
Of course, Trump isn’t the first to promise to drain the swamp just to add to its corrupt ecosystem. However, the move shows how voters are being fooled around with these pledges of government ethics in Washington.