WASHINGTON, DC — In his first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Trump referenced his efforts to reform ethics in Washington. The president signed an Executive Order in January to close the revolving door for members of his executive branch staff, but room remains for reforms which will meaningfully reduce the influence of special interests and ensure an equal voice for all.
“We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials, and a lifetime ban … on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government,” said President Trump during the speech.
Currently, loopholes in the definition of lobbyist in the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) allow billions of dollars’ worth of lobbying activity to go unreported. In fact, estimates suggest that the influence industry may be twice as large as what is reported. The president signed an Executive Order in January to close the revolving door for administration officials, but Congress must take action to close lobbying loopholes to ensure those changes are meaningful and enforceable.
“The right to know who is exercising their influence with elected officials is essential to a functioning democracy,” said Andre Delattre, Executive Director of U.S. PIRG. “The president has made references to this ideal throughout his campaign and first month in office; now is the time to take meaningful action and make it a reality. Ending shadow lobbying must be an integral part of this action.”
Presidential candidates from both major parties called for reducing the influence of special interests and ensuring that everyday Americans’ voices are heard. In the coming years, U.S. PIRG will be continuing its work to make this a reality.
U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.