White House loosens restrictions on lobbyists

WASHINGTON Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:51pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Iraq from his vacation home at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts August 11, 2014.     REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Iraq from his vacation home at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts August 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is loosening restrictions on lobbyists who want to serve on federal advisory boards, a White House official said on Tuesday, a setback to the president's efforts to tamp down special interest influence in Washington.

Obama came to office pledging to curtail the sway of lobbyists and banned lobbyists from serving on such panels, which guide government policy on a range of topics ranging from cancer to towing safety.

The president said he was doing so because the voices of paid representatives of interest groups were drowning out the views of ordinary citizens.

But many lobbyists felt they were being unfairly tarred by Obama's campaign to keep them out of public service. A lawsuit challenging the ban was initially dismissed, but a District of Columbia Circuit Court in January reinstated it.

A spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration was revising its earlier guidance on lobbyists serving on federal advisory panels to clarify that lobbyists may now serve on such panels when they are representing the views of a particular group.

There are more than 1,000 federal advisory committees.

The head of a lobbying industry trade group called the change a positive step that will allow the government to draw on the expertise of people whose experience can be beneficial in making policy.

"We’re basically going back to allowing federally registered lobbyists to participate in these committees," said Monte Ward, the president of the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

The revision will affect the ability of numerous lobbyists who would like to serve on advisory committees, said a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, Charles Rothfeld, of Mayer Brown.

"It is a significant change," he said.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bernard Orr)

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Comments (31)
willich6 wrote:
If obama pledged to “sway the influence of lobbyists”, then why is he loosening restrictions on them….

Aug 12, 2014 4:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
arbitus wrote:
Is this another bad joke???? Since when DON’T lobbyists represent the views of a particular group. Since when does Washington care about what the ordinary citizen thinks anyway. As long as gerrymandering rules the day the Rethuglicans and the 1%ers are going to rule. Classic example of the results of this unholy alliance was released today. Banks posted second highest profit quarter in history last quarter, while unemployment returned to pre meltdown levels. (with the caveat that the average workers wages were down 23% from pre great recession levels. Guess whose pockets that 23% went into….

Aug 12, 2014 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
siddy wrote:
Obama said, “he was doing so because the voices of paid representatives of interest groups were drowning out the views of ordinary citizens.”
READ:voices=$$$

Aug 12, 2014 5:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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