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September 23, 2009

Obama Administration Considers Cutting Lobbyists from Trade Policy Panels

The word on K Street is that the Obama administration is considering cutting lobbyists from federal advisory panels, including trade-related panels. Some of the committees must be re-chartered next February and sources close to the situation say that the administration is likely to either tell agencies to ban lobbyists from the panels or to provide the agencies influential guidance suggesting they avoid having lobbyists serve on the committees. The catalyst for this change is supposedly Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, also known as the White House “ethics czar.”

As expected, this is causing some tremors on K Street, and Roll Call reports that some lobbyists are “aghast at the move.” This is unsurprising, considering the extent to which industry has lobbied to monopolize these panels. If the Obama administration follows through on this move, it could be an important step in reforming U.S. trade policy to reflect more than just corporate interests. 

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