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Why We Closed the Revolving Door

Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, posts and responds to yet another letter from lobbyists complaining about the Administration's ban on lobbyists in agency advisory boards and commissions.

In the interests of transparency we wanted to give you another update on our efforts to limit the influence of special interests on government. As we indicated here in a previous blog post, the latest chapter in the Administration's efforts is limiting lobbyists from service on government boards and commissions. Some of the lobbyists who serve on these boards objected (pdf) and we explained the rationale in this letter (pdf).

Today, we received this letter (pdf) from the American League of Lobbyists protesting this Administration's steps to end the era of undue lobbyist influence on Washington. The letter makes a number of arguments with which we disagree, and to which we will respond, but our simple point is this: the system of lobbyists holding privileged government positions needs to be changed. This Administration has of course acknowledged that lobbyists can petition government on behalf of their clients. But lobbyists who represent the views of special interests should not do so from within government. That's why we closed the revolving door that used to allow lobbyists to move freely to and from government jobs and that's why the agencies are now taking this additional step.

Just like everyone else, lobbyists will continue to be able to air their views from outside government. But the days of lobbyists arguing not to the government, but from within the government, should come to an end-that is why the agencies are taking these strong steps with respect to the composition of these boards and commissions.

Norm Eisen is special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform