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Groups Meet With White House on Lobbying Restrictions

Updated: 10:06 p.m.

Representatives from the American League of Lobbyists, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union met with White House ethics adviser Norm Eisen and his team Friday afternoon to discuss the Obama administration’s restrictions on lobbying for stimulus funds.

Despite receiving no firm commitments from the White House to ease the restrictions, ALL President Dave Wenhold called the one-hour meeting a “positive first step.—

“We had a frank and open discussion with Norm and his team,— Wenhold said. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to work together to create a better policy without singling out a specific— group.

The groups recently sent a letter to White House counsel Gregory Craig expressing frustration at the Obama administration’s recently minted lobbying restrictions on stimulus funds.

Wenhold, along with CREW’s Melanie Sloan, the ACLU’s Wes Macleod-Ball, and ALL’s legal counsel Ken Gross of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, participated in the meeting with Eisen’s team in the White House.

“Hopefully, we can come back in a timely fashion and discuss next steps,— Wenhold said.

Still, Wenhold didn’t rule out litigation entirely, saying that taking that course of action would depend on what the White House decides to do about its lobbying policy.

“We told them we believed the restrictions were tough but fair to make sure that lobbyist communications are as transparent as possible, and that stimulus decisions are based on the merits,— a White House official said. “They agreed with our objectives — any differences we have are over the best means to achieve those goals.

“They took exception to some of the specifics of the restrictions and we had an honest exchange about our differences,— the official continued. “We noted that others, including in the reform community, strongly support the restrictions and we have heard from them too as part of the 60 day evaluation period mandated by the President’s Memorandum.—

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