New executive order further restricts lobbyists

Monday - 6/21/2010, 5:08pm EDT

By Meg Beasley
Federal News Radio

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order that extends limits on lobbyists serving in the federal government.

In a memo issued last Friday, the President directs, "the heads of executive departments and agencies not to make any new appointments or reappointments of federally registered lobbyists to advisory committees and other boards and commissions."

The memo also contains:

  • a ban on all gifts from lobbyists
  • a ban prohibiting all appointees entering government from participating in any matter regarding former clients for 2 years
  • a ban prohibiting lobbyists entering government from participating in any particular matter on which they lobbied within the 2 years before appointment, participating in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls, or seeking or accepting employment with any executive agency that they lobbied within the prior 2 years
  • a mandate that appointees who are leaving government must abide by any communications restrictions applicable to their agency for 2 years
  • a ban prohibiting appointees who are leaving government to lobby from lobbying any covered executive branch official or non-career Senior Executive Service (SES) appointee for the remainder of the Administration.

The memo is meant to strengthen an executive order that was signed soon after the President's inauguration.

The original order was issued with exceptions and has drawn criticism ever since it was announced.

For example, William J. Lynn III was Obama's pick for deputy secretary of Defense despite being a recent lobbyist for the military contractor Raytheon. Similarly, William Corr spent most of his career as an anti-tobacco advocate before being selected as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services (HHS).

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to criticisms saying that "even the toughest rules require reasonable exceptions."

According to the memo, in September 2009 the administration announced its desire to keep agency advisory boards free of federally registered lobbyists. While many agencies have begun this transition, today's memo establishes that policy as an official government policy:

"I hearby direct the heads of executive departments and agencies not to make any new appointments or reappointments of federally registered lobbyists to advisory committees and other boards and commissions."

Before the order goes into effect, it must go through the Office of Management and Budget , which will propose implementation guidelines and be open for a period of public comment before OMB issues final instructions.

Meg Beasley is an intern at Federal News Radio.

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