By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Barack Obama is reducing the number of lobbyists in Washington, though perhaps not in the way that he'd like. And maybe not even the ones he wants.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that more than 700 lobbyists and lobbying groups have de-registered with the House and Senate since Obama took office. Why de-register? Because the Obama administration has famously banned lobbyists from its ranks (mostly) and so while some lobbyists are trying to detox on the Hill, others are hoping to retroactively expunge their records.
And here's the catch: Some large number of people doing the de-registering are the good guys: the public interest types, good government activists, and people generally sympathetic to the Obama administration's goals. They're people like Tom Malinowski, who was an NSC speechwriter and then top national security official in the Clinton administration (and, ironically, contributed a key line to the Bush presidency). Malinowski is the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch—hardly the kind of corporate hack that the Obama lobbying ban is presumably meant to ensnare. But he can't crack the administration because he must wear the scarlet L. So now, according to the Post, Human Rights Watch is trying to retroactively remove its registration for the last two years on the grounds that the group just did not do enough lobbying to qualify.
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