The Ethics Thing Clinton Responds To The Public's Disgust

Posted: November 16, 1992

For a man the Republicans said was going to be owned lock, stock and barrel by special interests, the President-elect isn't wasting any time sending the opposite signal.

On Friday, Bill Clinton announced ethics guidelines prohibiting anyone on his transition team from turning around and trading on that influence as a lobbyist. As President, he is expected to ban former administration officials

from lobbying their old agencies for five years. And Mr. Clinton says he'll press for campaign finance reforms that would reduce the influence of special- interest money, as well as boost the prospects of political challengers.

That's a sharp departure from the indifference to such matters displayed in the Reagan-Bush era, when little was done to discourage former officials from trading on their influence or to press for campaign-finance reform. But such changes are clearly in demand by an American public increasingly fed up with Washington gridlock and insider dealing.

Some inside the Beltway will argue that broadening the current one-year ban on lobbying government after leaving it will scare off quality people. But one suspects that there are enough qualified people out there who don't want to profit so directly from their years of service. In any case, the President- elect doesn't appear worried, and he's the one forming a government. To the extent that Mr. Clinton can build public confidence in the integrity of his administration, that can only improve the workings of government.

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