We wanted to take this opportunity to announce the next step in the President’s efforts to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington. The White House has informed executive agencies and departments that it is our aspiration that federally-registered lobbyists not be appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions. These appointees to boards and commissions, which are made by agencies and not the President, advise the federal government on a variety of policy areas. Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington.
As has been reported, the President has made a commitment to close the revolving door that has in the past allowed lobbyists and others to move to and from full-time federal government service. In furtherance of this commitment, the President issued Executive Order 13490, which bars anyone appointed by the President who has been a federally-registered lobbyist within the past two years from working on particular matters or in the specific areas in which they lobbied or from serving in agencies they had lobbied. The aspiration we are announcing today builds on this commitment. While the letter of the President’s Executive Order on Ethics does not apply to federally-registered lobbyists appointed by agency or department heads, the spirit does and we have conveyed that to the agencies who are responsible for these appointments.
We recognize that there are many registered lobbyists who currently serve on these committees as a result of a prior appointment. When these appointments expire, it is our hope that agencies not reappoint anyone who is currently registered as a federal lobbyist at the time of their potential reappointment.
The President recognizes that some lobbyists advocate for public interest goals shared by this Administration. Nevertheless, the President made a commitment to the American people to reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington out of a belief that lobbyists have too often in the past achieved disproportionate impact on government decision makers at the expense of broader voices from the public at large. If we are going to change the way business is done in Washington, we need to make sure we are not simply continuing the practices of the past.
As the Administration strives to make these changes, we will monitor the process and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that we are fulfilling the President’s commitment while satisfying all interested parties that their voices will be appropriately heard in the process.
Norm Eisen is special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform