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January 21, 2021

Revolving Door Project

Letter

2020 Election/TransitionEthics in GovernmentForeign Policy

LETTER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN ON FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES

You have committed to rooting out the corruption of the previous Trump administration and have proposed sweeping government ethics proposals, which we commend. But in order to stick to these promises and to assure the American public that your administration will put national security concerns over corporate profits or foreign interests, we urge you to, at the very least, direct your nominees and appointees to clearly describe the specific nature of their past work for the private sector actors, especially those under investigation by or in ongoing contracts with the federal government. Earlier this week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recognizing the significance of these conflicts, requested additional information on nominees’ private sector work. The undersigned groups urge you to complete this request swiftly and ensure all of your appointees disclose the full scope and nature of their private sector work.

January 21, 2021

Miranda Litwak

Press Release

2020 Election/TransitionEthics in GovernmentForeign Policy

Biden Administration Must Go Further in Financial Disclosures to Reveal Possible Conflicts of Interest in Foreign Policy Making, Groups Say in Open Letter

Dozens of foreign policy, faith-based, environmental organizations, and watchdog groups are calling on President Biden to require more thorough screenings for, and disclosures of, possible conflicts of interest among nominees and appointees to the new administration. In a letter sent to the White House today, over 40 groups, including the American Friends Service Committee, Friends of the Earth, Government Accountability Project, Peace Action, Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Win Without War, and the Revolving Door Project say the Personal Financial Disclosures submitted by Biden’s nominees do not include vital information about private sector work and personal investments, posing questions about potential conflicts of interest.

January 21, 2021

Timi Iwayemi

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionFintechTech

Michael Barr's Past And Present Raise Deep Concerns If Appointed

If appointed to Biden’s OCC, Barr will confront one major new question for the primary federal regulator of banks: how to handle the emergent “fintech” industry of lending and payments apps. Disturbingly, Barr’s history advising and investing in the fintech industry suggests an approach similar to Trump’s own fintech-friendly stooge, former acting Comptroller Brian Brooks.

January 21, 2021

Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionClimateFinancial Regulation

Why the Comptroller of the Currency Must Be a Climate Leader

The OCC could also update the Comptroller’s Handbook to guide bank examiners to measure climate risk in their assessments, which would force banks to measure climate risk in their own internal stress tests. This would also push banks to make environmentally sound decisions, because they would be recontextualized as financially savvy decisions.

January 21, 2021

Ella Fanger Sion Bell

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionEthics in GovernmentGovernment Capacity

To Build Back Better, Biden Must Fix Government

Yesterday, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. President Biden has promised to build back a better America, but he faces a steep climb to reach this lofty goal. The nation is still reeling from an ongoing pandemic and recession, and the government has had to cope with massive shocks to the civil service, morale, and its basic functions during the Trump administration. To make good on his promise, Biden will need to undo the damage from Trump and decades of right-wing actions to undermine governance.

January 19, 2021 | Slate

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

Congressional OversightGovernment Capacity

Trump Has Quietly Hollowed Out the Government

Over four years, federal workers were ignored, subjected to retaliation, and fired for articulating politically inconvenient truths or standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s attacks against the public. By all accounts, that is set to change under President-elect Joe Biden. But while new attacks may not be forthcoming, the fissures from old ones will remain, threatening the federal government’s structural integrity unless the next administration and Congress take action. For all that we know about Trump’s assaults on the federal workforce, there is likely more that remains hidden. Up to this point, Democratic leadership has failed to make combating or uncovering these incursions a priority. For the sake of the Biden administration’s success, that will need to change.

January 13, 2021 | The American Prospect

Miranda Litwak Molly Coleman

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionBigLawDepartment of JusticeExecutive BranchRevolving Door

Biden Must Close the Revolving Door Between BigLaw and Government

Biden framed his campaign as “Scranton vs. Park Avenue,” promising an end to corporate government. But in order to do that, Biden must seal the revolving door between corporate law firms and the federal government. There is no shortage of brilliant attorneys who have dedicated their careers to serving the public interest and fighting for social justice who are ready to do that work within the new administration.

January 12, 2021

Elias Alsbergas

Blog Post

Ethics in Government

Gary Cohn, IBM, And A Tale As Old As Time

Amidst renewed furor to impeach Trump and expel Members of Congress for supporting the right wing Capitol Insurrection, more typical elite corruption goes without comment. IBM announced in January that Gary Cohn, Trump’s former head of the National Economic Council, would be appointed vice-chairman. Despite announcements that some corporations and lobbyists mulled temporarily suspending donations to Republicans inciting riots and IBM’s claim to support black lives, their announcement reveals the lie: Corporate America has no problem bringing high-level Trump appointees back into their elite fold.

January 12, 2021

Mariama Eversley

Blog Post

Government Capacity

Schedule F Still Poses a Grave Threat to the Civil Service

From the moment President Trump took office, he has been on a warpath with the civil service. He and his associates have waged an open war (and likely one behind closed doors as well) to seize control over federal employees just out of reach of easy firing. In October, as his presidency appeared rapidly to be approaching its end, he lobbed a bomb at the civil service system.

January 12, 2021

Zena Wolf

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionForeign PolicyGovernment Capacity

With Bill Burns At CIA, A Hopeful Move Toward Civil Service Revitalization

At the Revolving Door Project, we have frequently emphasized the importance of strengthening the civil service to ensure government works for public service and doesn’t cater to the interest of powerful people and corporations. We warned about how too much reliance on political appointments in the executive branch reduces accountability, citing academic research that political appointees perform worse than career managers. Especially in the Trump era, we have seen numerous examples of political appointees using the government for personal gain. Biden’s selection of William Burns, a career diplomat, as his CIA director should therefore be widely praised by progressives as a step towards restoring the civil service and depoliticizing the American intelligence community.