While there was always some debate as to whether President Obama had genuinely kept his promise to ban lobbyists from his administration and the policymaking process, now there is no doubt that the 2010 ethics package is void. After a lawsuit was brought by lobbyists, the Office of Management and Budget issued a new rule allowing registered lobbyists to serve in government.
According to the new rule, corporate lobbyists will now be able to serve on boards and commissions that advise decision-making throughout the executive branch. The lobbyists are, without a doubt, back inside the walls now. Though it is an open question as to whether they really ever left.
The change is the latest example of the limits of the president’s effort to rein in the influence of special interests in government. Mr. Obama barred lobbyists from contributing to his campaign and signed an order on his first day in office in 2009 prohibiting them from serving in his administration.
But Mr. Obama has made a number of exceptions to that rule and has hired lobbyists for several important jobs. Critics argue that the president’s position has led to unintended consequences, prompting some operatives to refrain from registering as lobbyists merely to preserve the option of working with the administration while they are essentially doing the same thing as a lobbyist.
Serving on an advisory commission is a great way for lobbyists to network for clients and glorify themselves in hopes of extracting higher fees for the clients they already have. But it can go beyond just being a feather in their cap as the access lobbyists have to decision-makers in government will inevitably lead to influence peddling and corruption.
Maybe there is no way to really prevent corruption in a political system built on bribery private campaign contributions, but this reversal by Team Obama is a not-so-subtle admission that they are not even going to symbolically fight special interests running Washington anymore.
No hope for change just another glaring example to reinforce the conclusion that America is a commercial oligarchy posing as a republic.
Image from the Federal Reserve under public domain.