Speaking today to the National Conference of State Legislatures, President Obama placed some stiff new restriction on stimulus lobbying:
Decisions about how Recovery Act dollars are spent will be based on the merits. Let me repeat that: Decisions about how Recovery money will be spent will be based on the merits.
They will not be made as a way of doing favors for lobbyists. Any lobbyist who wants to talk with a member of my administration about a particular Recovery Act project will have to submit their thoughts in writing, and we will post it on the Internet for all to see. If any member of my administration does meet with a lobbyist about a Recovery Act project, every American will be able to go online and see what that meeting was about. These are unprecedented restrictions that will help ensure that lobbyists don't stand in the way of our recovery.
These are great new rules, and any good government crusader would support them. The only question: why can't this be the standard for all executive branch lobbying?
The White House put out a memo today titled "Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds." It provides details on the lobbying restrictions above. It also includes a funny little quirk -- I'll add that below.