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Obama Camp Announces Ethics Rules, Says No Quid Pro Quo Offered In Bush Meeting

At a briefing this afternoon, Obama Transition Co-Chair John Podesta announced that the Obama campaign is instituting what he called "the strictest and most far reaching" ethics rules for any presidential transition team. The rules, as outlined at the briefing and listed in a follow up 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.

    As the Associated Press notes, the rules mean that Obama, who has said lobbyists cannot work in the White House, will allow lobbyists to serve in his transition effort "so long as their activities do not involve areas of policy they have tried to influence in the past year."

    Podesta also announced on the call that agency review teams were being established to examine more than 100 agencies and other government entities. Their purpose, he said, will be to advise incoming Cabinet members and other relevant officials so they can make budgetary and other determinations. The teams will begin work on Monday, Nov 17th, according to Podesta.

    The transition co-chair also addressed reports in a number of media outlets this morning that President Bush, in his private meeting with President-elect Obama, suggested he would back help for U.S. automakers if Mr. Obama dropped his opposition to the proposed free trade deal with Columbia.

    Podesta said the reports – which appear to have come from leaks by one or more people on the Obama team – were inaccurate. He said Mr. Bush offered "no quid pro quo" and characterized the relationship between the Bush and Obama camps as "collegial" and "cooperative."

    For more on the Bush meeting reports, check out this analysis from CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

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