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Obama Scales Back Lobbyist Ban on Commissions After Suit

Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama is reversing part of a ban he imposed on lobbyists serving on federal boards and commissions after lobbyists went to court to argue the prohibition violated their free-speech rights.

Lobbyists will again be able to serve on U.S. boards, commissions and advisory panels as representatives of state or local governments, industry groups, environmental organizations or labor unions.

The rule from the Office of Management and Budget already is in effect and will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.

OMB communications director Melanie Roussell said in a statement that the purpose of the prohibition is “to restrict the undue influence of lobbyists on the federal government” and was “not designed to prevent lobbyists or others from petitioning their government.”

Obama in June 2010 said executive branch agencies and departments could not appoint or reappoint federally registered lobbyists to government advisory committees and other boards and commissions.

The administration adopted the policy in October 2011 over opposition from the AFL-CIO, the national labor union federation, and about a half-dozen other organizations with offices in Washington.

Six federally registered lobbyists seeking to serve on government advisory panels known as international trade advisory committees, or ITACs, sued to overturn the ban. While a lower court dismissed the case in 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals revived the suit in January.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at Joe Sobczyk, Michael Shepard

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