President Obama Rescinds Order Affecting Lobbyists
By William J. Farah
President Obama has largely rescinded his 2010 directive banning the appointment of lobbyists to serve on federal advisory committees. A “Notice of revised guidance” issued by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) and published in today’s Federal Register states that lobbyists now may be appointed to serve on advisory committees, boards and commissions, if they are appointed in a “’representative capacity,’ meaning that they are appointed for the express purpose of providing a committee with the views of a nongovernmental entity, a recognizable group of persons or nongovernmental entities (an industry sector, labor unions, or environmental groups, etc.), or state or local government.” 79 Fed. Reg. 47482. The ban remains in effect for lobbyists who would be serving in their individual capacity. The President’s decision follows litigation initiated by several lobbyists who claimed their constitutional rights had been violated by the ban. Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had overturned a lower court ruling dismissing the lobbyists’ complaint and remanded the case with instructions that the lower court more carefully examine the government justifications for the ban.