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Union Leader: Obama Talks About Ethics During Manchester Visit

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Location: Manchester, NH

Union Leader: Obama talks about ethics during Manchester visit

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama yesterday promised to launch "the most sweeping ethics reform in history" on his first day as President.

Invoking Teddy Roosevelt's fight to end the Gilded Age more than a century ago, the Illinois senator told about 150 supporters, "It's time to renew a people's politics in this country to ensure that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists."

Obama delivered what his campaign billed as a "major policy speech" to invited guests at the New Hampshire Community Technical College at Manchester.

Obama, whose campaign does not accept direct contributions from lobbyists, promised to "close the revolving door that has allowed people to use their administration job as a stepping stone to a further their lobbying careers."

Obama said, as President, that he would ban any former member of his administration from lobbying the administration for the rest of his term in office, his campaign said.

Obama speech came as his campaign has tried to reinforce his "clean-government" image despite controversy in his home state.

His campaign confirmed last week that he wrote to public officials on behalf of a housing project proposed by donor and indicted Chicago developer Antonin Rezko. The campaign said Obama supported the project nine years ago to help the community and not as a favor. Obama has also given to charities about $30,000 in contributions from Rezko and some associates during Obama's Illinois campaigns.

Obama said he would act promptly on executive branch ethics reform with moves that would not require new laws. He promised, for instance, to ban any member of his administration from working on regulations or contracts directly related to a former employer for two years.

"When I am President," he said, "I will make it absolutely clear that working in an Obama administration is not about serving your former employer, your future employer or your bank account," he said. "It's about serving your country."

Obama said he would invoke, by executive order, an "absolute gift ban," forbidding members of his administration from taking gifts from lobbyists "so that no registered lobbyist can curry favor and build relationships with member of my administration based on how much they can spend.''

He said he would issue an executive order asking all new federal employees to sign a form stating they were not offered the job solely on the basis of political affiliation or contributions. The executive order would also require employees who do the hiring to "certify" that they would not take political affiliation into account.

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