A Report Card on the Obama Administration’s Executive Branch Lobbying, Ethics and Transparency Reforms in 2009

    Media Contact
  • Dale Eisman

Issued by Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters and U.S. PIRG

Reform groups issued a report card today on the Executive Branch lobbying, ethics and transparency reforms implemented by the Obama Administration in its first year.

The groups include Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters and U.S. PIRG.

The report card is based on the changes in Executive Branch rules and policies made by the Obama Administration in 2009, measured by what an Administration can accomplish solely through its own Executive Branch actions and in light of what past Administrations have done.

The report card concludes:The cumulative effect of the Administration’s actions has been to adopt the strongest and most comprehensive lobbying, ethics and transparency rules and policies ever established by an Administration to govern its own activities.

The report card covers seven areas in which the Administration has implemented government reforms and provides a grade for each area.

The report card states:We recognize that legitimate questions may exist about aspects of the various policies and their implementation. The positions we have set forth are based on an overall assessment of each of the policies in the context of this reality. The areas and grades, discussed in detail in the report, include the following:

Revolving Door Lobbying Ban, A

Open Government, A

Reverse Revolving Door Restrictions, A

Lobbyist Gift Ban, B

Preventing Lobbyists from Serving on Advisory Boards, B

Restrictions on Seeking Stimulus Funds, B

Restrictions on Seeking Financial Bailout, No Grade

According to the report card:The new rules and policies have begun the difficult process of changing the way business is done in Washington.

President Obama deserves recognition and high praise for the ethics, lobbying and transparency rules put in place for the Executive Branch during his first year in office.

Our organizations give the Obama Administration very high grades for the Executive Branch reforms it implemented during 2009.

The report card further states:At the same time, however, the overriding issue that has to be addressed to change the way business is done in Washington is the corrupting role played by campaign money in influencing federal officeholders and government decisions.

Washington lobbyists, special interests and campaign contributions combine to exercise enormous influence over government decisions at the great expense of the American people. The Washington influence-money culture fundamentally undermines the integrity of our government and is a prime cause for the deep cynicism that exists in our society about government policies and federal officeholders.

To date, the Obama Administration has not pursued public policy reforms in the campaign finance area. In 2010 and beyond, the core test for the Obama Administration’s government reform agenda will be its efforts to reform the nation’s campaign finance laws and the enforcement of those laws. In the end, in order to successfully take on Washington’s influence-money culture, the Obama Administration must take on and win the battle for fundamental campaign finance reform.

At stake here is nothing less than the right of the American people to a government free from influence-buying corruption.

According to the report card:Fundamental reform of the nation’s campaign finance laws requires:

Repairing the presidential public financing system, which President Obama publicly committed to do during his 2008 presidential campaign;

Establishing a public financing system for congressional races, and

Creating a new campaign finance enforcement system to replace the failed Federal Election Commission.

The report card states:These campaign finance reforms are the overriding government reform challenge facing President Obama as he begins his second year in office. We look forward to President Obama providing strong leadership on these essential campaign finance reforms and to working with the Obama Administration and congressional leaders to achieve these goals.

The full report card follows.