Posts Tagged ‘Obama and lobbyists’

OMB Releases Final Guidelines on Lobbyist Ban

Friday, October 7th, 2011 by Vbhotla

The Office of Management and Budget has issued final guidance on the June 2010 White House directive which banned lobbyists from serving on executive branch advisory boards and commissions.  The guidance, which will go into effect Nov. 4, impacts only active federally-registered lobbyists, not those who have terminated their registrations or lobby only at the state and local levels.  Also excluded from the ban: individuals employed by organizations that lobby but who are not actually registered themselves.

Lobbyists appointed prior to June 18, 2010 will be permitted to serve out the remainder of their terms on commissions and advisory boards, but agencies will have to request resignation from any individual who registered as a lobbyist June 19, 2010 or after.  No waivers will be granted.

“Special interests exert this disproportionate influence, in part, by relying on lobbyists who have special access that is not available to all citizens,” President Obama said in the memorandum.

American League of Lobbyists President Howard Marlowe calls the move “shameful,” saying “It’s clear that the president has begun his reelection campaign by resurrecting Pokies professional lobbyists as his punching bag.”

“Although lobbyists can sometimes play a constructive role by communicating information to the government, their service in privileged positions within the executive branch can perpetuate the culture of special interest access that I am committed to changing,” Obama said in the statement.

Marlowe contends, “[The president’s] actions reflect a disdain for open government based on transparency and the free flow of information.  It is political hypocrisy to say that those lobbyists who are not registered are welcome within the inner circle, while anyone who for whatever reason has registered as a lobbyist is shut out.”

OMB spokeswoman Meg Reilly told Politico Influence “The president has taken steps from the start to close the revolving door between the federal government and special interests, to end the culture of powerful lobbying influence, and to dramatically expand the level of transparency in government. This guidance is an important step in those efforts, but we will continue to identify new ways to expand transparency and accountability and look forward to working with the public on this.”

 

Weekly news round-up

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Vbhotla

They’re at it again: Politico reports yet another favorite off-Campus meeting place White House officials usher their lobbyist guests.  Yesterday’s report suggested that administration officials, who have often been criticized for holding meetings with lobbyists at a local Caribou Coffee to circumvent documenting the meetings, are now holding meetings at local Jackson Place Townhouses, where the White House houses its conference center.  Sentiments on the secret meetings vary.  Some welcome the outreach, despite the secrecy, and others decry the administration’s hypocrisy.

The Obama Effect: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel coasted easily to victory in the Chicago mayoral race with 55% of the vote, despite earlier controversy over his eligibility.  The president’s approval rating is obviously favorable in his hometown.

Budget Stalemate: Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will not issue another continuing budget resolution if the chambers fail to reach an agreement on spending for FY2011 before the current resolution expires March 4 unless the resolution includes significant cuts.  Some are predicting that with the Senate’s legislative calendar, an agreement within the time constraints is unlikely and a government shut down is all but inevitable.  The New York Times reports that aides to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accuse Democratic counterparts of “rooting for that outcome.”

American League of Lobbyists reacts to State of the Union address

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Vbhotla

In one of Howard Marlowe’s first acts as president of the American League of Lobbyists, he decried President Obama’s State of the Union remarks as being “inflammatory,” saying “The President’s State of the Union remarks were especially disheartening, because they were made in a speech that was focused on unifying, not dividing our nation.”

Obama has been notably harsh on lobbyists in his speeches, beginning even with the primary campaign leading up to the 2008 election.  Despite these remarks, there have been multiple reports that he has consulted lobbyists on several matters, including the budget proposal on which he is currently working.  Marlowe mentioned the president’s not-so-quiet history of working with lobbyists, saying “The Administration often reaches out to representatives of industries, labor unions, and other ‘special interests’ to get their advice.”

He goes on to retort that professional lobbyists provide an invaluable service to citizens, legislators and regulators in addition to the clients they represent.  Marlowe also argues, in what seems to be in response to Obama’s assertion that “lobbyists have rigged the tax code,” that “When members of Congress weigh the information provided by professional lobbyists, it is they and not lobbyists who have the votes to decide what is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation.”

Marlowe called on Congress to not cede the authority to review, examine and adjust the budget proposals that are submitted by the executive branch.  He states, “ALL is opposed to any action that limits elected officials from fully representing their constituents,” which he contends earmarks help them to do.  Read Marlowe’s full statement on the League’s facebook page.