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Will Unions’ Billion Dollars Buy Exemption from Obama’s Crackdown on Lobbyists?

The Obama administration is giving lobbyists the boot, according to the Washington Post, in an effort to reduce their influence in Washington.

No, really. It’s not a joke. The Washington Post says it’s the case.

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. [Emphasis added.]

The Heritage Foundation notes that ”[u]nions as a whole spent more than $1 billion of their members’ dues to elect Obama and the current Congress.” 

Apparently, however, the Administration has forgotten all the union appointees like Patrick Gaspard (White House Communications Dir.), Ellen Moran (Commerce Department), Mary Beth Maxwell (Dept. of Labor), Jordan Barab (OSHA), Craig Becker (NLRB nominee) or John Sullivan (Federal Elections Commission) that have been handed plum jobs due to their special interest advocacy.

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.” [Emphasis added.]

There is little doubt that the “special interests” the White House is aiming at do not include union bosses like SEIU’s Andy Stern (who seems to have his own key to the Lincoln Bedroom) and Anna Burger, or the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, all of whom enjoyed a seat at the White House state dinner last week and spent hundreds of millions of dollars putting Obama into office.

[Of course, perhaps the White House is only targeting registered lobbyists.  If that's the case, unregistered Andy Stern may be off the hook and the hypocrisy can continue.]

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Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.

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