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White House, Lobbyists to Meet on Restrictions

White House ethics adviser Norm Eisen is expected to meet with American League of Lobbyists representatives and others frustrated by the Obama administration’s recently minted lobbying restrictions on stimulus funds. Eisen returned ALL President David Wenhold’s calls on Wednesday, saying he would be open to meeting, according to Wenhold. “He’s interested in sitting down with us after the holiday and is open to having a dialogue,— Wenhold said.No date has been set, but the meeting is expected to take place after the two-week Congressional recess.The decision to meet comes after ALL, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the White House on March 31, requesting major changes to the administration’s policy. “The administration welcomes everyone’s comments and will consider them,— White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “The goal of our policy is to put the public interest first, and we’re happy to meet with individuals and organizations that have ideas about how to achieve that.—The White House has also extended an invitation to the ACLU and CREW.Additionally, the White House has said it will review the impact of the new rules after 60 days.The Obama administration policy on stimulus lobbying was released late last month in a memo, which said lobbyists cannot meet or speak with executive branch officials about specific stimulus projects or applications. Instead, lobbyists must submit written comments, which will be posted publicly within three business days, about any proposed stimulus funding. “We’re very concerned about that policy,— said ALL board member William Edington of Edington, Peel & Associates Inc. “I’ve been a lobbyist for 30, nearly 40 years if you count the time I did it for the government, and it’s kind of unreal for someone to take the position we’re a part of the problem and not the solution.—Eisen’s call came on the same day that the ALL board held a special meeting to discuss strategy on how to improve the lobbying community’s overall image.“We have been proactive advocating good government,— said ALL board member Paul Miller of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies. “We’ve struggled with this White House and hopefully the meeting in the next few weeks will— fix that.Miller said the group expects to bring in a detailed list of how more transparency can be achieved, including where loopholes in the law are and how to solve them. “We’re developing ideas,— Edington said. “I think we need to be on a daily basis refuting criticism we receive from the White House, Congress and the press.—

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