Secrecy News

Ethics Office Puts Limits on CIA Lobbying (2006)

For one year following their employment, all former government employees are prohibited by law (18 U.S.C. 207c) from contacting employees of their former agency for the purpose of influencing their official actions.

A 2006 legal opinion (pdf) from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said this means that former CIA employees cannot contact current CIA employees for purposes of seeking official action, even if those current CIA employees are detailed to another federal agency.  Prior to the OGE opinion, the CIA had disputed that the law extended to contacts with CIA detailees at other agencies.

“One certainly could envision circumstances in which a former senior CIA employee might have the opportunity to use his or her former position to influence a current CIA employee on detail to another agency in the Intelligence Community,” wrote OGE General Counsel Marilyn L. Glynn in her opinion prohibiting such contacts.

The OGE legal opinion was written in response to a request Steven Bradbury of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.  The circumstances that prompted the inquiry are not known, nor is it known if the OLC itself issued any further guidance on the subject.  The 2006 OGE opinion was released last month under the Freedom of Information Act.