WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton championed a bill on Monday to reduce the so-called "revolving door" for workers moving between the financial industry and government.
Clinton co-authored an op-ed in the Huffington Post with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who introduced a bill in July designed to reduce conflicts of interest associated with private-sector employees, including bankers, moving in and out of government.
"The American people need to be able to trust that every single person in Washington — from the President of the United States all the way down to agency employees — is putting the interests of the people first," the two wrote in the op-ed.
The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act would ban government workers from accepting bonuses, known as "golden parachutes," from their former corporate employers; expand a "cooling off" period on lobbying government agencies after leaving the public sector to two years; and require financial regulators to recuse themselves from actions that would benefit a former employer or client for two years.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. Warren challenged all presidential contenders to back the Baldwin-Cummings bill at a progressive conference in July.
Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, has previously come under fire for bringing private-sector employees into his administration, including most notably his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a Goldman Sachs executive who later went on to help lead Citigroup.
The former secretary of state has also faced criticism that she's too close to Wall Street, though she's raised broad concerns with "too big to fail" banks and the shadow banking system.
The op-ed is careful to note that bringing outside perspectives into government "is often a good thing," adding that experience in the corporate world is typically "an asset, not a liability."
But Baldwin and Clinton argue that more should be done, including punishing banks and other firms found guilty of wrongdoing.
"That means ensuring that when corporations pay fines for breaking the law, those fines cut into the bonuses of the highest-paid executives. It means increasing rewards to whistleblowers, so employees of private companies have greater incentive to come forward and report illegal activity," they wrote. "And it means prosecuting individuals, as well as firms, when they commit fraud or other crimes."