Nearly fifty progressive groups are calling on President Joe Biden to release more information on his political appointees and nominees’ potential conflicts of interest.
In a letter sent Thursday to the White House, the 49 groups — including CODEPINK, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and Public Citizen — wrote that the financial disclosure forms provided by top Biden administration officials to date “provide insufficient details on the nature of work your nominees and appointees have performed for their clients, making it nearly impossible to determine the full scope of the potential conflicts.”
The request comes as Biden’s Cabinet designees are undergoing the confirmation process in the Senate and on the heels of an about face from former President Donald Trump on “draining the swamp” in Washington, a hallmark of his 2016 campaign. One of Trump’s final acts in office was to overturn a previous executive order he signed in 2017 that banned White House officials from certain lobbying positions after leaving government work. (RELATED: Trump Revokes His Own ‘Drain The Swamp’ Executive Order That Banned Some Lobbying)
“From Blackstone and Gilead, to Palantir and Facebook, to Raytheon Technologies and Ridgeline Partners, the corporate clients referenced in the disclosures released so far include a number of firms with significant stakes in federal and international policymaking,” the letter reads. “It is vital we understand the extent of the private sector work performed by Biden’s nominees and appointees on behalf of corporations and foreign governments.”
Biden has repeatedly vowed to root out corruption in the federal government, a fact noted within the letter, and the groups called on the president 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.”
The letter specifically calls on all of Biden’s appointees and nominees to provide the following:
- Provide a detailed description of the work performed for corporate clients or foreign governments in a consulting capacity, including on which policy areas and federal agencies they advised, how long they maintained a professional relationship with each client, what specific advice they offered on these policy areas and federal agencies, and whether those recommendations were ultimately implemented.
- Describe how specifically they came to be consulting with these corporate clients or foreign governments, and why they chose to take them on.
- Disclose any guidance they provided to clients related to federal procurement and list the federal contracts advised on.
- Describe in detail any investments that are not readily intelligible based on the name of the entity, particularly overseas investments, including the value of those investments and the identities of all beneficial owners.
“The public has a right to receive full transparency from their public servants,” the group wrote in closing. “This means not just providing the bare minimum on public financial disclosures, but fully detailing private sector work.”