An Obama administration rule taking effect over the next few months will take potentially thousands of those oh-so-evil Washington lobbyists off panels advising federal officials on everything from consumer protection to environmental policy. The panels’ web is so tangled, the Post reports, that the feds aren’t even sure how many there are. One recent estimate has 1,000 panels with 13,000 members—of whom the capital’s 60,000 lobbyists make a sizeable fraction.
“Some folks have developed a comfortable Beltway perch sitting on these boards while at the same time working as lobbyists to influence the government,” says the White House ethics counsel. “That is just the kind of special-interest access that the president objects to.” Counters one lobbyist who chairs a trade board and, as expected, is among many up in arms over the new rules: “It’s a whole different and specialized world. It is not easily obtained knowledge, and they are crippling themselves terribly by ruling out all registered lobbyists.”