White House eases “lobbyist ban” that never really stopped the revolving door

Originally posted here.

 

When it comes to President Obama and special interests, hypocrisy is what automatically comes to mind. The candidate who once promised the country he would fight special interests in Washington hasn’t kept his word as president, and is now once again showing no signs of change.

After lobbyists appealed a federal court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the administration over banning registered lobbyists from serving on federal advisory boards, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has released a new guidance making it possible for registered lobbyists to serve on advisory boards again while representing a client.

In spite of the so-called ban, which was placed in 2010, former lobbyists were never banned from serving. In many cases former lobbyists served on advisory boards without the need of receiving special waivers, which is the loophole they often explored to go around the 2010 ban.

Candidate Obama’s ethics plan indicated where he once stood on special interests, at least on paper.

“No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”

But once he took office, ethics were set aside. A new dawn of revolving doors had emerged. Cases such as Obama appointing former chief executive of H&R Block as a deputy commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service and former executive vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as a senior counselor at the Health and Human Services are just a few of the many examples of Obama’s lack of commitment to his promise.

Now, registered lobbyists, as well as unregistered ones, will be able to once again serve on federal advisory boards as long as they are representing specific interests. Before the new guidance, corporation employees could also serve on the boards, making the registered lobbyists ban a laughable attempt at playing the public into believing President Obama was doing his best to stop the revolving door.

Well, surprise! He wasn’t.

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