Friday, November 27, 2009

New Obama Policy Bars Lobbyists From Federal Advisory Panels

Finally, some traction on corporate influence.

Lobbyists pushed off advisory panelsWhite House initiative to limit influence could affect thousands.
By Dan EggenWashington Post Staff Writer

Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.

The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.

The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.

Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.

"Some folks have developed a comfortable Beltway perch sitting on these boards while at the same time working as lobbyists to influence the government," said White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen, who disclosed the policy in a September blog posting on the White House Web site. "That is just the kind of special interest access that the president objects to."

And though lobbyists are unhappy, some good-government advocates say the policy is sound.
"You may lose a lot of expertise, but these people are also paid to have a point of view; they have an agenda," said Mary Boyle, a vice president at Common Cause. "We support what the administration is doing to get deep-seated special interests out of the business of running our government, so this seems like a step in the right direction."


  1. it doesnt go far enough - call me the pessimist, but i wonder if it is window dressing

    but right now, lets take what we can get

  2. Hi DC, I know... what can we expect at this juncture in time, knowing what we now know about how Washington corrupts even the best laid plans of... well, you know. Crossposted articles talk about thousands of these assholes having to find other means of employment. It is a start. I'll take it.