Lobbyists League Criticizes Treasury Restrictions

Posted January 30, 2009 at 4:42pm

The American League of Lobbyists on Friday sharply criticized Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s move to block lobbyists from having any input on the distribution of bailout funds, citing a violation of their constitutional rights.

The trade group for lobbyists sent a letter to Geithner three days after the department released new “safeguards” aimed at preventing lobbyists’ influence over the distribution of the financial sector bailout money.

“A blanket statement that an entire category of citizens — based on the nature of their employment — will be precluded from having access to any branch of government, seems to go well beyond what is reasonable, acceptable or legal,” wrote Dave Wenhold, president of the league.

Further, the group complained that it hasn’t been able to obtain a copy of the actual rules beyond the press release that the Treasury Department issued on Jan. 27.

“If the rules are still in formulation, we would earnestly request an opportunity for input,” Wenhold wrote.

Additionally, ALL recommended that the Treasury Department put forward a “formal notice and comment procedure,” saying that it might be required by the Administrative Procedure Act if the rules are expected to be binding.

According to the Treasury Department release, the new rules include “restricting contacts with lobbyists in connection with applications for, or disbursements of” Emergency Economic Stabilization Act funds.