Government job opportunities limited by Obama ethics rule

| 1/22/2009

Lobbyists who had hopes of working for federal agencies that they may have lobbied in the past are out of luck because of an executive order issued by President Barack Obama.

The executive order issued Wednesday, Jan. 21, mandates that all appointees in every executive agency – including the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – must sign an ethics pledge that among other things limits the roles of lobbyists.

Former lobbyists cannot be appointed for two years to federal agencies that have jurisdiction over any special interest area the lobbyists represented in the past two years. For example, lobbyists who represent different interests in trucking are banned from working with any agency that has jurisdiction over the trucking industry.

Taking the prohibition further, Obama’s order also prohibits any appointee who leaves an agency from lobbying for special interests that the agency oversees for the remainder of Obama’s administration. Drilling that down to the trucking industry, that provision keeps anyone in appointed roles at the DOT or FMCSA from working as a lobbyist for any trucking-related interest.

Appointees are also prohibited from accepting any gifts from lobbyists or lobbying organizations.

To read the full executive order issued by Obama, click here.

The executive order comes at a time when there has been rampant speculation as to who might be nominated to head the FMCSA and the Federal Highway Administration. Nominees will be named sometime following Ray LaHood being confirmed as the secretary of transportation by the full Senate.

His confirmation is expected to continue on a smooth road following an easy go of it in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday. His nomination was sent to the full Senate for a vote. As of press time, his confirmation still had not been voted on.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor