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74% Favor Banning Regulators From Working For Those They Regulate For At Least Five Years


Americans overwhelmingly believe that government regulators should be banned from working for companies they regulate for at least five years. A sizable number also think companies that offer jobs to regulators should be banned from doing business with the government altogether.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 32% of American Adults feel that regulators should be forbidden entirely from working with companies they regulate, while another 42% think that ban should extend for five years. Only 10% believe there should be no ban whatsoever. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Nearly one-out-of-two adults (48%) say companies that offer jobs to regulators should be banned from doing business with the government. Just 21% disagree and oppose any such ban, while 30% are not sure.

These views are perhaps no surprise given that 51% of Americans think that when a company offers a government regulator a job, it's a form of a bribe.  Fifty-nine percent (59%) believe some companies routinely hire regulators to get favorable treatment from the government, and nearly as many (53%) think companies that regularly hire former regulators get that special treatment.

The so-called "revolving door" with people going back and forth between government and private industry jobs is common in Washington, D.C. The practice raises conflict-of-interest questions but is generally  legal. The most recent high-profile case involves a Federal Communications Commission member who in January voted in favor of the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal. Now that same commissioner has announced she is leaving the FCC to go to work for Comcast.

The findings in the latest survey are consistent with a long history of polling showing that roughly seven-out-of-10 Americans believe big government and big business tend to work together against the rest of us. 

Men are slightly less supportive than women of banning regulators from working for those they regulate. But 53% of men favor banning companies that offer jobs to regulators from doing any business with the government, compared to 44% of women.

Adults over the age of 40 support banning regulators for life from working for those they regulate more than younger adults do. Older adults also tend to more strongly favor a permanent ban on government business for those who offer to hire regulators.

Investors back tougher limits on regulators working for companies and those that try to hire them than non-investors do. Government workers support tougher standards more than those who work for private companies.

From a political standpoint, there's little disagreement between Republicans and Democrats on these questions. Adults not affiliated with either of the major parties are only slightly less supportive of the respective bans.

Voters have mixed feelings about government regulation of big business, but most feel small businesses are regulated too much.  There is also a strong belief that more competition and less regulation would be better for the economy and job creation.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen , president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on May 20-21, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC
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