Democratic hopeful Warren vows to bar corporate giants from hiring ex-officials
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren said on Tuesday she would bar large corporations and major government contractors from hiring former senior government officials for at least four years, filling in more details of the anti-corruption platform that has driven her campaign.
Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has risen to the upper echelon of the 18-candidate Democratic field, where she is jockeying with former Vice President Joe Biden for front-runner status, according to opinion polls. The Democratic nominee will likely face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
Warren's campaign has been animated by a series of plans intended to end the influence of big money in Washington, including several measures designed to end the so-called revolving door between lobbyists and government.
She previously said she would prevent large companies from hiring senior government officials for four years after they leave office. On Tuesday, she expounded on that idea, saying she would apply the ban to any company that is worth more than $150 billion or exercises significant control over its industry's market.
Any company found to violate the restriction would be hit with a fine equal to 1% of its net profit, with subsequent violations resulting in even higher fees – penalties that would reach hundreds of millions of dollars for the largest corporations.
She also said she would extend the ban to any government contractor with more than $5 million in annual federal contracts, citing a report from the nonpartisan watchdog Project on Government Oversight that found the largest defense contractors hired more than 380 former defense officials and military officers within two years of leaving government.
In a policy paper outlining her proposal, Warren specifically cited corporations like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE), Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT), Wells Fargo& Co (NYSE: WFC) and BP Plc (NYSE: BP), saying they frequently hire former government officials who can leverage their Washington contacts, while simultaneously spending millions of dollars on lobbying efforts.
"Giant corporations should compete on a level playing field – and they shouldn't be able to rig the system by scooping up every available former government official in an effort to get federal regulators off their backs," she wrote.
Warren has previously criticized as anti-competitive the largest tech companies, such as Facebook, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc's Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), and has said she would seek to break them up by enforcing antitrust regulations more strictly.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Peter Cooney)