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Biden-Harris Transition Releases Code of Ethical Conduct and Ethics Plan for Lobbyists

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

WASHINGTON (11/8/2020) — The Biden-Harris Transition published its Transition Code of Ethical Conduct and Transition Ethics Plan that will guide transition activities. The Presidential Transition Act directs the transition team to develop a Transition Code of Ethical Conduct and Ethics Plan to ensure the transition team members are held to clear and enforceable ethics standards. Consistent with Vice President Biden’s long-standing commitment to honest government, the Biden-Harris Code and Plan go beyond the requirements of the Presidential Transition Act.

Vice President Biden has said that the charge facing the president who follows Donald Trump is as big as it is essential: restoring faith in the American government. The next administration must demonstrate with their actions that public servants serve all Americans, not themselves or narrow special interests.

“The Biden-Harris Transition prioritizes integrity and the highest ethical standards to serve the American people,” said Senator Ted Kaufman, Co-Chair, Biden-Harris Transition. “Our ethics code and plan demonstrate the values that would be part of a Biden-Harris Administration and promote accountability to garner trust from the American people at every stage.”

The Biden-Harris Code of Ethical Conduct and Ethics Plan set the following standards for transition team members:

  • Transition team members may not work on particular matters where they have a financial conflict of interest and must seek the General Counsel’s advice before working on a matter where there is a potential appearance of conflict.

  • Transition team members may not trade individual stocks, without clearance from the General Counsel, to avoid even the appearance that transition team members could use private information for personal gain.

Foreign Lobbying - Any transition team member who has personally represented, aided, or advised a foreign government or foreign political party in the last 12 months must receive prior approval from the General Counsel before working on the Transition. Additionally, transition team members cannot represent, aid, or advise a foreign government or political party while serving on the transition or for 12 months after the transition.
Federal Lobbying - Federally registered lobbyists, or people who have been federally registered lobbyists in the last 12 months, require the approval of the General Counsel to work on the transition team. Regardless of whether a team member is a registered lobbyist, transition team members cannot work on matters for which they conducted lobbying activity in the last 12 months or anticipate conducting lobbying activity for the 12 months after transitioning without the approval of the General Counsel.
  • To ensure compliance, the General Counsel has been designated to oversee and enforce the Biden-Harris Code.

By law, the Transition Code of Ethical Conduct and Ethics Plan applies only for the Transition. As with previous administrations, and consistent with his commitment to building an administration that serves the people, not private interests, if elected, Vice President Biden will require his appointees to be governed by an administration ethics pledge.

Senator Ted Kaufman, one of five transition co-chairs and one of Vice President Biden’s longest-serving advisors, authored the laws that guide Presidential transition planning. With Senator Kaufman as part of the Biden-Harris transition effort, ethics are at the core of the organization the Senator is helping to build.

Source: Biden-Harris Transition Team

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