While talk of whether Trump is or is not “draining the swamp” of lobbyists continues in Washington (and on Twitter), one form of lobbying—lobbying the White House about regulations—has quietly flown under the radar. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—the tiny White House office that serves as a clearinghouse for agency rules—regularly holds private meetings with stakeholders about regulations that are under development. These meetings are referred to by the anodyne-sounding term “12866 meetings” (in reference to Executive Order 12866, which governs regulatory review), but make no mistake about it—these meetings are regulatory lobbying pure and simple.
3. Interest groups—not industry—drove the increase
Lobbying is often associated with big business and industry. During Obama’s first year, these types of interests—that is, individual businesses and trade associations—dominated OIRA’s meeting lineup. As shown in Figures 2 and 3, these groups continued to make up the majority of meetings in Trump’s administration, but the mix of groups meaningfully shifted. Nonprofit groups that focus on the public interest (e.g., Public Citizen) or are more narrowly issued focused (e.g., Earthjustice) made up a greater proportion of the meetings.