White House considers eliminating ban on lobbyists for Hillary Clinton–and it is alarming watchdogs

The prohibition on lobbyists serving in the White House could be coming to an end.

President Obama is under pressure to kill the executive order he put in place before his successor takes office, Politico reported.

The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that works with both campaigns to ensure a smooth transition of power, said the benefit of not hiring former lobbyists is outweighed by the cost of acquiring the best talent, Politico said.

Nixing the order could be seen as an acknowledgment that he failed to uphold one of the major pledges of his 2008 campaign, or that the change he brought to Washington wasn’t built to last. But punting the issue to his successor, especially if it’s Hillary Clinton, would risk thrusting upon her the bad optics of welcoming lobbyists with open arms.

It comes down to the numbers, said Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will have roughly 4,000 jobs to fill, and they would benefit from anything that greases the pipeline.

“There are political optics reasons why there’s a lot of attractiveness to make the ethics bars really strict,” said Stier, a former deputy general counsel in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “But in governing, you’ve got to be careful that you’re not losing on actual talent.”

He said getting rid of Obama’s rule is “important because you want the new president, in my view, to have as much latitude to do what he or she thinks is best without having to worry.”

But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea to change the rules.

Norman Eisen, nicknamed “The Ethics Czar,” helped craft the order Obama signed. He said the law should be adjusted to make it tougher for lobbyists to be employed by the administration, not easier.

The answer, he said, “is not to throw it out. The solution is how do we expand, to close these loopholes.”

“I’m quite confident that the next administration — which is going to be the Hillary Clinton administration — is going to hang on to the executive order,” Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist, told Politico.

“I see her strengthening [Obama’s] rule and expanding it to everybody and perhaps even applying it to a larger category of officials,” he said.

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Carmine Sabia

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