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Friday, November 27, 2009

Obama Pushes Lobbyists Off Federal Advisory Boards

In a little-noticed blog post published on the White House website in September, President Obama's special counsel for ethics and government reform Norm Eisen announced that the administration no longer wanted federally-registered lobbyists appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions.

These appointees to boards and commissions, which are made by agencies and not the President, advise the federal government on a variety of policy areas. Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington.

As has been reported, the President has made a commitment to close the revolving door that has in the past allowed lobbyists and others to move to and from full-time federal government service. In furtherance of this commitment, the President issued Executive Order 13490, which bars anyone appointed by the President who has been a federally-registered lobbyist within the past two years from working on particular matters or in the specific areas in which they lobbied or from serving in agencies they had lobbied. The aspiration we are announcing today builds on this commitment. While the letter of the President's Executive Order on Ethics does not apply to federally-registered lobbyists appointed by agency or department heads, the spirit does and we have conveyed that to the agencies who are responsible for these appointments.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the move "may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama," resulting in "hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists" being ejected from federal advisory panels.

Not surprisingly, lobby groups, corporations, and other K Street influencers are up in arms.


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