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CEA: Pruning Executive Branch Trips Is Bad Idea

The Consumer Electronics Association has told the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) that proposed new lobbying restrictions would perpetuate job-killing regs, and effectively criminalize efforts by government officials to learn about business.

That came in comments on the Obama Administration's proposed new amendments to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch that would disallow lobbyists from comping administration staffer attendance at industry tradeshows -- like CEA's massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where the latest in new technology is on display.

"The rules suggest that business and jobs creators are enemies rather than partners who each play a crucial role in growing the economy," said CEA President Gary Shapiro in a statement. "No other country has such draconian segregation of government and business."

By treating as off-limit gifts offers of free attendance to "widely attended gatherings" (a category that had been exempt) from "registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations," said CEA, the new rule would discourage info exchanges of benefit to the government, and "irrationally" disadvantage executive branch employees.

CEA asks that the proposed rule be abandoned or at least redrafted.

CEA has issues with other new rules, including removing the exception for inexpensive gifts from lobbyists to administration members (under $20 in value, under $50 for a calendar year).

"Plainly the entire framework of the current executive branch gift regulations rests on the well-reasoned and carefully applied assumption that executive branch employees may accept certain gifts from persons who directly seek to influence them or their agency and may do so without raising any question of real or apparent corruption or impropriety," CEA said.