ACLU: Lobbyist Rules Restrict Free Speech

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2009 1:34 PM CDT
Lobbyists can't attend meetings about stimulus spending.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The ACLU and other watchdog groups on both the left and right think President Obama is carrying his crusade against lobbyists too far, Politico reports. Obama's recent directive forbidding government officials from discussing how to spend the stimulus with lobbyists infringes on free speech, they say. The groups plan to send a formal letter of protest to the White House next week.

The ACLU applauds the intent—the White House wants to make sure "improper influence" doesn't affect how money gets spent. “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."