Posts Tagged ‘obama’s lobbying ban’

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.”

 

Fact Check: Lobbying Regulatory Agencies

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 by Vbhotla

Last week, Politico ran a story about “A Second Stimulus for K Street,” in which the author discussed the profitability of lobbying regulatory agencies in this climate (which Dom Ruscio of Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis & Associates, LLC referenced when he quipped “Regulation is the new earmarks” in a January Lobbying Certificate Process).

The SEC, like many other government agencies, is scrambling to write and enact rules to enforce recent legislation. But don't be deceived: contacting SEC officials is still lobbying.

The story suggests that “unlike traditional lobbying, regulatory work is part of the largely unreported influence economy, like political intelligence, grass roots and research.”  This is only partly true.  While lobbying regulatory agencies is indeed lucrative, a lot of regulatory agents are executive branch appointees, and thus lobbying these individuals is subject to HLOGA rules and LDA reporting.  Obama defines “Executive agency” as including each “executive agency” defined by section 105 of title 5 of the United States Code (read: all of the regulatory agencies), plus employees of the US Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission, but excluding employees of the GAO.

“Appointees” include “every full Online Pokies time, non career Presidential or Vice Presidential, non career appointee in the Senior Executive Service (or other SES type system), and appointee to a position that has been excepted from the competitive service by reason of being a confidential or policymaking character (Schedule C and other positions excepted under comparable criteria) in an executive agency.  It does not include any person appointed as a member of the Senior Foreign Service or solely as a uniformed service commissioned officer.”

Under President Obama’s Executive Order, these officials cannot accept any gifts of any value from lobbyists. Additionally, contacts made with these officials should be reported on the LDA filings, if the thresholds for lobbying are met.  Any firm or individual receiving $3,000 or more per quarter from a particular client, makes a second lobbying contact on behalf of said client, and  spends 20% or more of the time for that client (not comprehensively, this is evaluated on a per-client basis) must file an LD-1 registration.  Any lobbying contacts made on behalf of that client, including contacts to regulatory agencies and other Executive Branch officials, must be subsequently reported on future LD-2 forms.