WASHINGTON -- A year after President-elect Bill Clinton promised to stop the revolving door between government and lobbying, he has left it open for two White House aides to dTC become highly paid lobbying executives.
When Mr. Clinton and his advisers unveiled their new ethics standards, they hailed them as the most rigid ever imposed on government officials. But the departure of two of the president's most senior advisers to take charge of lobbying enterprises at salaries of $500,000 a year and more have called attention to the limits of the rules.
While Clinton's new rules prohibit lobbying, they are mute on allowing the supervision of lobbyists.
The cases of Roy M. Neel, the deputy White House chief of staff, and Howard Paster, the congressional liaison, have now made clear what is still not prohibited. Mr. Paster has said he will do no lobbying himself in his new job, but both men are legally free immediately to direct lobbying by others and to seek themselves to sway the votes of members of Congress.
The appearance that the revolving door that Clinton so vehemently criticized can still operate at near-full whirl has prompted a chorus of criticism from some of those who most enthusiastically applauded the new ethics standards.
"This administration has made a very big deal about stopping business as usual, and this is exactly business as usual," said Pamela Gilbert, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, which has been a leading champion of stricter ethical standards for government officials.
Mr. Neel, 48, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore, is to become president of the U.S. Telephone Association, the lobbying arm of regional and local telephone companies. Mr. Paster, 48, is to return to Hill & Knowlton, the public relations and lobbying firm he left to take the White House post, to become its chairman and chief executive. Its clients include such big corporations as Boeing, Exxon, Pfizer and Mazda.
Both men say there is nothing about their new jobs that violates the restrictions imposed by Mr. Clinton.