Biden Ethics Pledge

The Biden-Harris Transition Team released its Ethics Plan on September 30, 2020, pledging to “base all policy and personnel decisions on merit, free from individual conflicts of interest.”

  • The Plan explicitly banned “leaders at fossil fuel or private prison companies” and team member participation in “any particular transition matter that they know may directly conflict with a financial interest of the member, an immediate family member, partner, client or other individual or organization with which the member has or has had a business relationship within the past 12 months.”
  • The Plan did not ban lobbyists from serving as team members, but requires “advance approval of the General Counsel,” Jessica Hertz, a Facebook government relations executive described by government accountability nonprofits as a “shadow lobbyist” for her employer.
  • Team members who are FARA-registered or “represented, aided, or advised a foreign government or foreign political party” also require Hertz’s approval, but cannot FARA-register for 12 months after they leave the team.
  • Foreign nationals can also serve, pending approval.
  • Biden committed to “avoid[ing] both actual and apparent conflicts of interest” and “hold[ing] only non-conflicting assets.”
  • Watchdog groups also criticized the Plan for being weaker than “similar codes from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”