A group of nonprofits that lobby have sent President Barack Obama a letter requesting changes in the year-old executive order restricting lobbyists from jobs in the administration.
The letter, dated Jan. 21, describes the current ban as well-intended, but flawed. They want to revise who is covered by the law.
"It does not cover the vast majority of 'special interest' insiders," such as corporate executives, public relations consultants, and legal advisers, the groups wrote. A copy of the letter is available here (.pdf).
Yet, the letter says, the order as written does cover people who lobby for charities and public interest causes, and who don't have any type of financial interest in government policies. The order covers all those registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the letter notes, which means that "countless charities that have no actual or perceived financial conflicts of interest are treated as 'collateral damage,' and discouraged from much-needed policy involvement."
In a press release accompanying the letter, Larry Ottinger, the president of the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, said the rules have caused some "simply to deregister as lobbyists and retreat into the shadows."
The groups signing the letter include the Alliance for Children and Families, the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, the Government Accountability Project, Human Rights Watch, and others. Many of those groups have also praised the executive order, as well as Obama's efforts to increase transparency.