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Obama Transition Team Announces Lobbying Restrictions

John Podesta, co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, announced today that Obama would extend the restrictions on lobbyists during his presidential campaign to his transition to the White House. The transition team outlined the changes in a press release:

· Federal Lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

· Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

· If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

· If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

· A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

During a 45-minute briefing with reporters in Washington, Podesta also suggested that those who go to work for the Obama administration would be prohibited from lobbying the administration for two years after leaving.

Podesta pledged that the transition would be the most open and transparent in history. He said he expects as many as 450 people will eventually work for the transition team, which will have a projected budget of $12 million — $5.2 million of which was allocated by Congress. The remainder, as has been the case in past presidential transitions, will be raised from individual private donors who will be publicly disclosed, Podesta said.

The restrictions on lobbying activities of administration officials would represent a welcome 180-degree reversal of the policies of President George W. Bush — who had an uncanny preference for appointing lobbyists as federal regulators of their pet industries.

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