Obama administration scales back ban on lobbyists serving on federal advisory committees

By William H Minor

The Obama administration, which has proudly touted its restrictions on the activities of federal lobbyists, has taken a small step toward rolling back one such provision. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released new guidance, published in the Federal Register on 13 August, which narrows the application of a 2010 Presidential Memorandum barring lobbyists from serving on federal agency advisory boards and commissions.

OMB’s new guidance appears to have been prompted by an appeals court decision earlier this year that gave new life to a lawsuit brought by a group of lobbyists who served on Industry Trade Advisory Committees. The lobbyists argued that the Obama policy violated the First Amendment by denying them the benefits of service on the committees as a result of exercising their right to petition the government.

The case, now known as Autor v Pritzker, was dismissed by a district court judge in 2012, but this year, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, reinstating the case…

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