Accuracy in Media

The ACLU isn’t happy with the latest directive from the White House.

From the Politico

Free speech advocates from across the political spectrum are accusing President Barack Obama of impinging on First Amendment rights and are gearing up to take their case public.

At issue is an unprecedented directive that Obama — who has long railed against lobbyists as the personification of a corrupt Washington culture — issued last week barring officials charged with doling out stimulus funds from talking to registered lobbyists about specific projects or applicants for stimulus cash.

Under the directive, which began going into effect this week, agency officials are required to begin meetings about stimulus funding for projects by asking whether any party to the conversation is a lobbyist.

“If so, the lobbyist may not attend or participate in the telephonic or in-person contact, but may submit a communication in writing,” reads Obama’s memo, which requires the agencies to post lobbyists’ written communications online.

The rule is intended to prevent stimulus funds from being “distributed on the basis of factors other than the merits of proposed projects or in response to improper influence or pressure,” according to the memo.

While applauding that goal, Michael Macleod-Ball, chief legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and himself a lobbyist, questioned the means, saying, “The question is whether this restriction, as it’s drafted, is the best way to achieve that end with the narrowest amount of limitation on an individual’s rights possible.

“From our perspective, the pretty clear answer is ‘no, it’s not.’”

Next week, the left-leaning ACLU will join with the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the trade group the American League of Lobbyists in sending a letter to the White House protesting the policy, said League President Dave Wenhold.

Normally the ACLU is battling conservatives so it is refreshing to see them challenge a liberal for a change.

 




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