A lobbyist group is strenuously objecting to a proposed new regulation that would make it harder for them to spread their influence -- it would ban them from giving gifts to all federal employees.
President Obama began cracking down on lobbyists early in his administration, banning gifts to political appointees. Now The Hill reports that the Office of Government Ethics wants to take things one step further and extend the ban to all employees.
The American League of Lobbyists is predictably not very happy with the proposal.
"The administration has offered no reports of even a single abuse of its current regulations to warrant the severe restrictions it has proposed on the mutual flow of information and expertise between lobbyists, their employers, and federal workers,” said League President Howard Marlowe in a statement. “If it is not withdrawn, this rule will prevent government workers from having even casual social contact with registered lobbyists. Does that mean if they find themselves at a luncheon table at a professional conference that they have to ask the others to raise hands if they are a lobbyist?”
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Marlowe added that lobbyists are an important cog in the wheel that makes government turn.
“Lobbyists and their employers have knowledge that federal employees can use and they have knowledge that we want to tap. Federal workers develop policies and regulations that affect every aspect of our society. To prevent interaction of almost any kind between lobbyists and federal employees is not in the public interest. It will result in the dumbing-down of government at a time when public trust is at an all-time low."
The Office of Government Ethics is accepting public comments like the ones from Marlowe until mid-November, and then it will make its decision.