Groups Ask Biden to Disclose Details of White House Transition

(Bloomberg) -- Thirty progressive and good-government groups are urging Joe Biden to commit to transparency and strict ethics rules around his White House transition team, which the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has indicated he is beginning to build.

In a Thursday letter, the groups call on Biden to announce the leaders of his transition team in the coming days or weeks and demand that he outline its governance policies and appoint an “ethics czar” by June 1. Biden said at a fundraiser last week that “the transition team is already being put together” but his campaign has not released any information about its members or structure.

“Transition teams’ governance principles carry symbolic, as well as practical, significance because they set the tone for the new administration, should the candidate win election. Because administering a transition is an act of leadership, laying out guidelines for one’s transition team offers a rare opportunity to essentially fulfill campaign promises in real-time. We ask you to embrace this chance wholeheartedly,” wrote the groups, which include Americans for Financial Reform, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, MoveOn and the Revolving Door Project.

“Joe Biden is fully committed to a transparent, accountable, responsible government that works for the people of the United States,” said spokesman TJ Ducklo. “A Biden administration will appoint leaders of integrity who prioritize the public interest over all else, and who share Vice President Biden’s mission to restore faith in government after one of the most corrupt administrations in American history.”

An update to the Presidential Transition Act requires transition teams to disclose their ethics policies but does not go into great detail about what those disclosures must include beyond a discussion of the roles of people with conflicts of interests, registered lobbyists and registered foreign agents.

The groups have asked Biden to offer “rigorous” ethics guidelines that “maximize the public’s confidence that the people serving on your transition team will be working for the public, not for themselves, corporate special interests or foreign countries.” They recommend that the transition disclose whether individuals working on the team are paid or unpaid and that the financial interests of those people be disclosed.

The groups are also asking Biden to follow the example set by President Barack Obama’s transition team, which posted policy documents on a website and disclosed the details of meetings that its staff held with people and groups outside the team. They also want Biden to commit to fund the transition with contributions from individuals and to turn down checks from lobbyists and foreign agents.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.