Ethics Pledge Overview

ETHICS GUIDE

Summary of Ethics Pledge (EO 13770)

President Trump signed Executive Order 13770 on January 28, 2017, requiring every full-time, political appointee appointed on or after January 20, 2017, to sign an Ethics Pledge (Pledge) upon accepting the political appointment. Under the Pledge, appointees commit to:

  • not, within five years after termination of his or her employment as an appointee, engage in lobbying activities with respect to the agency to which he or she was appointed to serve;
  • abide by the senior employee post-employment restriction in 18 USC § 207(c), to the extent that he or she is covered by that restriction at the time of his or her departure from Government;
  • not, upon leaving Government service, engage in lobbying activities with respect  to any covered executive branch official (as described in the Lobbying Disclosure Act) or any non-career Senior Executive Service appointee for the remainder of the Trump Administration;
  • not, at any time after termination of employment in the U.S. Government, engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party, which if undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938;
  • not, for the duration of his or her service as an appointee,  accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations (subject to a very limited number of the exceptions provided in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch promulgated by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), as well as other exceptions that OGE may authorize in the future for situations that do not implicate the purpose of the gift ban);
  • not, for two years from the date of appointment,  participate in any particular matter involving specific parties in which a former employer or client is or represents a party, if the appointee served that employer or client during the two years prior to the appointment;
  • not, if the appointee was a registered lobbyist during the two-year period prior to the date of appointment participate in any particular matter on which he or she lobbied during the two years prior to appointment or in the specific issue area in which that particular matter that falls for period of two years after the date of appointment; and
  • agree that any hiring or other employment decisions will be based on the candidate's qualifications, competence, and experience.

Section 3 of the Executive Order provides a waiver mechanism for any of the restrictions contained in the Pledge. The waiver must come from the President or his designee. The Executive Order also provides for enforcement of the Pledge through civil action by the Attorney General. Moreover, the Executive Order provides that any  former appointee found to have violated the Pledge may be barred from engaging in lobbying activities with respect to his or her agency for up to 5 years in addition to the 5-year time period covered by the Pledge.

The Departmental Ethics Office works closely with the Department's political appointees to review the Pledge, obtain the appointee's signature, and advise the appointees on how the Pledge may affect their official duties.