Plan to Further Restrict Contact with Lobbyists Draws Criticism
September 21, 2011
Lobbyists and good government groups are finding fault with a proposed rule that would widen restrictions on the freedom of millions of federal employees to accept small gifts and to attend events with registered lobbyists.
The proposed new standards by the Office of Government Ethics, published in the Federal Register on Sept. 13, expand on the executive order that a newly sworn-in President Obama issued in 2009 requiring political appointees to foreswear gifts from registered lobbyists. The draft rule would apply that obligation to career employees as well.
"After considering the myriad issues that have arisen under the lobbyist gift ban for full-time political appointees," the proposed rule stated, "the Office of Government Ethics has decided that the best approach for extending the lobbyist gift ban beyond the core political personnel is to add a lobbyist limitation to the existing limitations . . . on the use of the gift exceptions in the OGE regulations. In this way, the lobbyist limitation would build on concepts, prohibitions and exceptions with which employees and agency ethics officials already are familiar, rather than adding a new stand-alone prohibition."