MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) —The White House Office of Management and Budget published Wednesday a note of revised guidance on the work of Lobbyists in the American government. It allows registered lobbyists to participate in policymaking following a ban issued in June 2010, Politico reports.
The private sector is now entitled to an advisory role in the executive branch of power, with lobbyists for corporations and industry groups allowed to serve on more than 1,000 industry boards, panels and commissions, the ruling published on the Federal Register website suggests.
Some of the previously introduced ban is still in place, as lobbyists are still not authorized to act on behalf of private citizens or representatives of the government.
On June 18, 2010, President Obama issued “Lobbyists on Agency Boards and Commissions,” a memorandum directing agencies and departments in the Executive Branch not to appoint or re-appoint federally registered lobbyists to advisory committees and other boards and commissions. The move was meant to reduce the “influence of special interests on the Federal Government and the American public,” the document released by US General Services Administration Committee reads. However about 70 corporate, for-hire or association lobbyists all joined the Obama administration back then.
Following the ban there came a string of lawsuits from lobbyists claiming their constitutional rights had been violated. In a 16-page complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, six lobbyists argued the authorities’ ban against lobbyists on advisory committees ran counter to the First Amendment.
“The administration can appoint people to the ITACs [Industry Trade Advisory Committees], but they can’t bar people from the ITACs from exercising their constitutional rights,” one of the lawyers told The Hill. “You can’t say you’re going to ban someone on account of them being Jewish, for exercising their right to freedom of religion. This is their right to petition.”
Watchdog groups dubbed the decision to reverse a part of Obama’s ethics package disappointing:
“It really shows OMB backpedaling on Obama’s policies dealing with ethics and lobbying activity,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the government watchdog group Public Citizen. Holman said that lobbyists simply tended to use their position for their own benefit, instead of lobbying their groups’ common interests in government’s policy-making.