President-elect Obama, who campaigned against lobbyists' influence, on Tuesday opened the door for them to work for him if they sign an ethics code that restricts their role in and out of government.
Lobbyists can work for Obama's transition if they stop their advocacy efforts and avoid working in any field that for which they lobbied in the past year. They also must pledge not to lobby the administration on the same matters they focused on for a year after leaving Obama's service.
The ethics policy allows Obama to hire any of the some 22,000 federally registered lobbyists who could be valuable assets because of their government experience.
Obama transition co-chair John Podesta announced the policy at the first news conference in the transition headquarters briefing room. He said the transition will have a budget of $12 million. Taxpayers pick up $5.2 million, and Podesta said the rest would be raised from individuals with a $5,000 per-person contribution limit. He said lobbyists, corporations and political action committees will be banned from donating.
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Podesta said the transition would employ about 450, with teams sent to review more than 100 federal agencies. He said the teams will move in as early as Monday.