CEA: Pruning Executive Branch Trips Is Bad Idea

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Washington -- The Consumer Electronics Association has told
the Office of Government Ethics that proposed new lobbying restrictions would
perpetuate job-killing regulations and effectively criminalize efforts by
government officials to learn about business.

CEA's Gary Shapiro

The trade group made that case in comments on the Obama
Administration's proposed new amendments to the Standards of Ethical Conduct
for Employees of the Executive Branch. Those standards would disallow lobbyists
from offering administration staffers complimentary attendance to such industry
trade shows as the CEA's massive International Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas, where the latest in new technology is on display.

"The rules
suggest that business and jobs creators are enemies rather than partners who
each play a crucial role in growing the economy," CEA president Gary
Shapiro said in a statement. "No other country has such draconian segreation of government and business."

The CEA said that treating offers of free attendance to "widely
attended gathering" from "registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations" (a
category which had been exempt) as off-limits would discourage information
exchanges of benefit to the government and "irrationally" put executive-branch
employees at a disadvantage.

The CEA asked that the proposed rule be abandoned or at
least redrafted.

 The CEA has issues
with other new rules, including removing the exception for inexpensive gifts
from lobbyists to administration members (less than $20 in value, less than $50
for a calendar year).

"Plainly, the entire framework of the current executive
branch gift regulations rests on the well-reasoned and carefully applied
assumption that executive branch employees may accept cetain gifts from persons
who directly seek to influence them or their agency and may do so without
raising any question of real or apparent corruption or impropriety," the CEA
said.

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