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White House Reversing Itself on Lobbyist Ban on Government Boards

The White House seen from the South Lawn August 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The White House Office of Management and Budget is set to reverse a policy barring registered lobbyists from serving on government advisory committees and boards, Politico reported.

The White House seen from the South Lawn August 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The OMB is expected to release a new rule Wednesday that would allow lobbyists from corporations, trade association and industry groups to serve in representative roles on government boards.

That means these lobbyists could serve on more than 1,000 different executive branch boards, according to Politico.

The Obama administration implemented the lobbyist ban in 2010 as part of an ethics package, backing up some of President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign pledge to try to curb the power of special interest in Washington.  Under the rule change, some of the ban will remain in place.

Registered lobbyists will only be able to serve as representatives on a board acting on behalf of a corporation or industry group, not as a private citizen or representative of the government.

The reversal could be viewed as a victory for litigants against the rule.

Former National Retail Federation Vice President Erik Autor and other trade association lobbyists challenged the 2010 rule after they were kicked off an Industry Trade Advisory Committee. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the administration's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Politico pointed out that regardless of the ban, 70 lobbyists have joined the Obama administration in some capacity.

“The prohibition is not designed to prevent lobbyists or others from petitioning their government,” an OMB representative told Politico.

“The revised policy now clarifies that the prohibition does not apply when a federally registered lobbyist is appointed to a federal advisory committee for the express purpose of providing the committee with the views of a nongovernmental entity, a recognizable group of persons or nongovernmental entities or state or local government," the agency said. "The prohibition will continue to apply to lobbyists who are appointed to federal advisory committees to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the government.”

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