This is one of those stories that the Big Media usually doesn’t make much of, but it could have a major impact on the way the government does business.
Lobbyists pushed off advisory panels
White House initiative to limit influence could affect thousands
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 27, 2009
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.”
But lobbyists and many of the businesses they represent say K Street is being unfairly demonized by a White House intent on scoring political points with scandal-weary voters. They warn that the latest policy will severely handicap federal regulators, who rely heavily on advisory boards for technical advice and to serve as liaisons between government and industry.
Copyright 2009 The Washington Post.
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