President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday requiring all political appointees to pledge to refrain from lobbying for two years after they leave his administration.
The pledge from the document requires appointees to abstain from using their positions to secure future business relationships or employment after leaving their posts.
“I commit to ethical choices of post-Government employment that do not raise the appearance that I have used my Government service for private gain, including by using confidential information acquired and relationships established for the benefit of future clients,” the pledge read.
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The executive order also calls on Biden’s political appointees to not engage in activities related to any previous lobbying conducted within two years before working in the White House. The pledge specifically requires them to abstain from participating “in any particular matter on which [they] lobbied” for two years after their appointment.
The executive order shares some similarities with a five-year ban instituted by former President Donald Trump, which he instituted in 2017 as part of his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.”
Trump’s order, however, while longer in duration than Biden’s decree, included a number of loopholes for his appointees to take upon leaving office, including letting them become lobbyists so long as they didn’t directly lobby the agency where they had previously worked. Trump’s ban also contained imprecise definitions of banned activities, which facilitated lobbying by former appointees.
Biden’s executive order provides a wide list of definitions, and explains in detail what kind of lobbyist activities would be forbidden.
In one of his last acts in office, Trump rescinded his ban on lobbying for his former appointments, effectively granting every official in the Trump White House the ability to become lobbyists right away.
Biden’s order does not have any effect on Trump’s former aides or officials.
The executive order signed by the new president on Wednesday also forbids his appointees from hiring subordinates based on personal preference. Instead, all hiring decisions must be “based on the candidate’s qualifications, competence, and experience,” the order said.
The condition is a notable departure from Trump’s time in office, as the former president had a habit of hiring loyalists and devotees to himself for several government positions, oftentimes putting people into power who had no relevant experience.
In addition to his executive order on lobbying, Biden also told his staff that he would not accept certain toxic workplace behaviors, and promised to fire individuals for disrespectful behavior during a conference call while he was administering oaths of office to White House aides and officials.
“I am not joking when I say this: If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Biden said during the call.