Rule broadens DHS post-employment lobbying limits

Senior officials will be prohibited from lobbying anywhere in the department for 12 months after they leave.

A new rule issued this week further restricts where senior Homeland Security officials can lobby for the first year after they leave the department.

In a rule posted in the Federal Register, the Office of Government Ethics announced that it will prohibit Senior Executive Service and non-General Schedule employees who earn 86.5 percent or more of Executive Schedule II pay ($145,320 or more for 2007) at DHS from lobbying anywhere within the department for 12 months after they leave their jobs.

Previously, the department was split into eight sections for the purposes of the restrictions, and officials who met this definition were barred from lobbying only at the particular section where they had worked. DHS officials asked the ethics office to expand the yearlong ban to cover the entire department "as DHS strives to establish a single, unified workforce," the rule stated.

The rule is scheduled to go into effect on June 7, after a 90-day waiting period. This means senior officials who leave before that date would have a chance to sidestep the restrictions.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., lauded the rule Thursday.

"This is a positive step toward slowing the revolving door between special interests and government service," Lieberman said. "Too many officials, for too long, have been able to use inside information and special access for their own personal benefit. By imposing a single, clear standard across the entire department, former employees moving to the private sector can no longer exploit loopholes in the system."

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that the department is embracing the change.

"Whatever the component agency or office, the leaders of this department are first and foremost senior DHS officials," Chertoff said. "There should be no doubt about the integrity of our leadership and the motivation for their service to our country."