Federal lobbyists can now officially raise their glasses to the White House nomination of Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, as ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Eisen successfully became the bane of lobbyists’ existence with his very first act after joining the White House: leading the charge for an executive order banning lobbyists from serving in the administration (which Obama signed on his first day in office). Eisen has followed that up with successfully convincing the President and his administration to bar lobbyists from federal advisory boards, and making thousands of White House visitor names public. (He also posts fairly prolifically on the White House blog about ethics).
Lobbyists have since criticized the Eisen-led Obama policy of shutting out lobbyists as causing “de-registrations,” or even just discouraging registration in the first place, and fostering underground lobbying. Prague’s gain is a potential loss for watchdog groups, who fear Eisen may not be replaced. Already, the NY Times story about White House staffers meeting lobbyists in coffee shops to keep things off the record (see Drew’s post on that here) has groups like Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (which Eisen co-founded) losing plenty of sleep.
As for Eisen, he’s probably too busy dreaming of the largest ancient castle in the world right now to worry about bickering lobbyists and hawk-eyed ethics groups!