For Immediate Release: January 27, 2021
ICAR Applauds Biden Administration Steps to Combat Corporate Capture on Day-One
New Administration’s Crack-down on Shadow Lobbying and Golden Parachutes Reflects ICAR’s Recent Recommendations
Washington, D.C. – The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) welcomes President Biden’s bold executive action requiring a stringent new ethics pledge from his administration’s appointees. On the first day of his administration, President Biden signed a far-reaching executive order to clamp down on shadow lobbying and ban golden parachutes, taking important steps to address gaps in existing ethics laws that enable corporations to capture the executive branch.
“While this order is certainly not the first of its kind, President Biden’s ethics pledge goes farther than any previous administration’s in several important ways. And as long as it is vigorously enforced, it could significantly help to rein in outsized corporate influence and ensure our government works in the public interest,” said Alison Friedman, Executive Director of ICAR.
Last year, as part of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition’s Policy Working Group, ICAR developed a set of concrete recommendations for day-one executive action to prevent corporate influence over federal agencies. These were included in DFAD’s broader report, Day One is for Democracy, which was released in mid-November. ICAR welcomed the incorporation of several core recommendations in the administration’s new ethics pledge, including new rules that:
- Extend and expand existing post-employment “cooling-off” requirements that prohibit ex-officials from contacting or lobbying certain parts of the executive branch for a set time;
- Add a new “cooling-off” requirement that prohibits senior appointees from engaging in “shadow lobbying” for one year after they leave government service;
- Ban appointees from accepting golden parachute payments for taking a government job;
- Prohibit appointees from accepting gifts from lobbyists or lobbying organizations; and
- Require that waivers granted to pledge’s restrictions be made publicly available within ten days.
While the pledge is quite strong, it falls short of adopting all of ICAR’s recommendations, especially regarding the risks that arise when corporate insiders secure key roles in federal agencies, known as the reverse revolving door.
“President Biden’s ethics pledge certainly raises the bar, but it is a short-term fix. Ultimately, Congress needs to act to make strong ethics rules permanent by enacting laws like the For the People Act” said Nicole Vander Meulen, Senior Advocacy counsel at ICAR. “The last four years have driven home the fact that these protections are far too important to be left up to the discretion of each new administration.”