Lobbyists group denounces OMB guidance to ban K Street from boards

The American League of Lobbyists blasted guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that will prohibit lobbyists from serving on federal advisory boards and committees.

In a letter Tuesday to OMB general counsel Preeta Bansal, league president David Wenhold and board member Peter Mayberry called the guidance "discriminatory, arbitrary" and "harmful" to lobbyists and government officials because it could deny K Street's expertise to policymakers.

Mayberry, president of Mayberry & Associates, is a former member of an advisory committee that deals with trade issues. 

In their letter, Wenhold and Mayberry argued that the prohibition should be repealed. They say the policy has "already resulted in diminished transparency" because lobbyists have likely terminated their registrations in order to keep serving on the committees. 

The Obama administration has defended the policy by saying it is necessary to help reduce the influence of lobbyists in Washington. Administration officials have argued lobbyists should not be allowed to serve on advisory committees, given the potential conflicts of interest.  

Some lobbyists argued for a waiver process, similar to the one included in President Obama's executive order that banned lobbyists from serving in his administration, but the White House has rejected that suggestion.  

In 2009, the White House asked federal agencies to refrain from appointing lobbyists to their advisory committees. Earlier this year, they asked for formal guidance on the policy from OMB. 

Public comments responding to the OMB guidance are due by Dec. 2.