Lobbyist association backs lawsuit against Obama administration

The American League of Lobbyists (ALL) on Tuesday backed a lawsuit that seeks to overturn President Obama’s prohibition against lobbyists on federal advisory boards.

The League said the policy is an “arbitrary act of discrimination and a restriction on the constitutional right of free speech, both of which are unconstitutional.”

“The American League of Lobbyists supports this legal action,” Howard Marlowe, president of the group, said in a news release. “We are examining our options to determine what further action ALL may take.” 

The lawsuit was filed in September by a group of six lobbyists who were either members of an Industry Trade Advisory Committee or seeking to serve on one. The panels are jointly managed by the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

In September 2009, the White House began asking federal agencies to prohibit registered lobbyists from serving on their advisory boards. 

In a blog post at the time, Norm Eisen, then the White House ethics czar, said the ban was being put in place because “lobbyists have too often in the past achieved disproportionate impact on government decision makers at the expense of broader voices from the public at large.”

Marlowe, also president of lobbying firm Marlowe & Company, said the policy is counterproductive because it encourages lobbyists to terminate their registrations. 

“As a result, hundreds if not thousands of lobbyists have de-registered,” Marlowe said. “That act alone takes them from sunlight to midnight. The public has no idea who a de-registered lobbyist is and what they are doing.”