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Public Papers - 1989 - November

Statement on Signing the Ethics Reform Act of 1989

1989-11-30

Today I have signed into law H.R. 3660, the ``Ethics Reform Act of 1989,'' which contains important reforms that strengthen Federal ethical standards. It is based on the legislation that I sent to the Congress last April, the recommendations of the President's Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, and the report of the House Bipartisan Ethics Task Force.

Key reforms in the Act include: the extension of post-employment ``revolving door'' restrictions to the legislative branch; a ban on receipt of honoraria by Federal employees (except the Senate); limitations on outside earned income for higher-salaried, noncareer employees in all branches; increased financial disclosure; creation of conflict-of-interest rules for legislative branch staff; and limitations on gifts and travel.

Together, these measures go far to carry out the four ethics reform principles I set forth in January. I stated then that our Federal ethics standards should be:

exacting enough to ensure that public officials act with the utmost integrity and warrant the public's confidence;

fair, objective, and consistent with common sense;

equitable all across the three branches of the Federal Government; and

not unreasonably restrictive so as to discourage able citizens from entering public service.

The Act also includes important adjustments to compensation for all three branches of Government.

To avoid constitutional concerns, I will view as advisory the section calling for the President to recommend to the Congress equal rates of pay for different positions. I will similarly construe as advisory the provisions allowing officials lacking executive powers to issue interpretative opinions purporting to insulate Federal employees from the consequences of potentially violative acts.

George Bush

The White House,

November 30, 1989.

Note: H.R. 3660, approved November 30, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 194.

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