The Obama administration recently announced a new policy that will bar lobbyists from serving on federal advisory boards, which will end up removing hundreds–if not thousands–of lobbyists from such positions:
The new policy — issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel — may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.
The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don’t have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.
Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.
Now, I know that it’s not a good idea to paint all lobbyists with the same broad brush–not all of them are bad, many of them are merely advocates for particular groups or causes.
But people whose jobs center around pushing a certain agenda shouldn’t sit on federal advisory boards. When it comes to influential governmental bodies there should be as few conflicts of interest as possible.
Of course, don’t expect the newfound right-wing anti-corruption crusaders to give President Obama credit for this monumental policy change. Personally, I think he deserves some credit for draining the swamp, if just a little bit.