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By Dan Eggen
Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.
The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.
The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.
Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.
"Some folks have developed a comfortable Beltway perch sitting on these boards while at the same time working as lobbyists to influence the government," said White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen, who disclosed the policy in a September blog posting on the White House Web site. "That is just the kind of special interest access that the president objects to."
Top health care officials met with Barack Obama and other administration officials just as the president pushed Congress to pass legislation to overhaul the health insurance industry, newly released White House visitor logs show.
According to an analysis by the Associated Press, the 1,600 records the White House released Wednesday show that a "broad cross-section of the people most heavily involved in the health care debate, weighted heavily with those who want to overhaul the system."
Some of these individuals include:
Laird Burnett, a top lobbyist for insurer Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., and a former Senate aide. Kaiser has spent some $1.7 million lobbying Congress over the past two years.
Joshua Ackil, a lobbyist whose clients include Intel, U.S. Oncology Inc., and Knoa Software Inc., all of which have reported lobbying on the health care overhaul. Ackil met with Dan Turton, the White House's deputy legislative affairs director who works with the House, in August. Seven people were at the Aug. 21 meeting, the records show.
Alissa Fox, a lobbyist with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, met March 31 with Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget. Four people attended, the records show. The health insurance federation has spent at least $6.7 million lobbying this year.
Amador "Dean" Aguillen, a former aide to Nancy Pelosi who is now with Ogilvy Government Relations, where he lobbies for clients including pharmaceutical companies SanofiPasteur and Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Pfizer Inc., and Amgen USA Inc., all of which reported lobbying on health care issues this year. Aguillen appears to have attended the same Aug. 21 meeting with Turton that Ackil did.
Bloomberg added that the visits also included representatives from pharmaceutical trade groups.
Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, visited eight times, meeting twice with Obama and once with economic adviser Lawrence Summers. Former U.S. Representative Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, had two meetings with deputy chief of staff Jim Messina among at least eight at the White House.
Ignagni’s group, whose members include Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., is lobbying against efforts to include a public insurance option to compete with the private companies that are members of her trade association. Phrma, whose members include Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Co., is pushing Congress to enact health-care legislation.
Originally posted by whaaa
IMO this is one of the main reasons I voted for Obama and If he can live up to this promise; I'll vote for him again. End the NeoCon Corporate welfare!!
Originally posted by whaaa
End the NeoCon Corporate welfare!
Originally posted by badgerprints
If he replaces these panel members with nonpartizan professionals or experts then bravo..................but.....................we've seen who he puts in the very visible and high profile tzar positions.
[edit on 27-11-2009 by badgerprints]
Two Days After Instituting Ethics Rules, President Obama Waives them for Deputy Pentagon Secretary Nominee
Two days after introducing what he heralded as the most sweeping ethics rules in American history -- ones that would "close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely" -- President Barack Obama today waived those rules for his nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn.
"I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts" and
"If I was a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2, I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment: (a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment; (b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or (c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment."
The waivers were provided for Jocelyn Frye, director of policy and projects in the Office of the First Lady, and Cecilia Munoz, director of intergovernmental affairs in the executive office of the president. The two waivers were announced on the White House blog Tuesday evening, which said the exceptions were granted under a “public interest” exemption of the executive order on ethics.
An anonymous senior White House official explains:
When you set very tough rules, you need to have a mechanism for the occasional exception. We wanted to be really tough, but at the same time we didn't want to hamstring the new administration or turn the town upside down.
In other words, you can't let what you say get in the way of what you do.
President Barack Obama has reversed course in his first week in office on bans of revolving-door lobbyists. The presidential flip-flop should be good for business for Boston-based defense contractor Raytheon Corporation.
The new president, promising change, is instead doing business as usual when it comes to the military-industrial complex. During the campaign, Obama vowed that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House." The campaign pledge apparently doesn't apply with the military where lobbyist William J. Lynn is the pick to be the deputy Secretary of Defense.