Agency lobbying restrictions go too far, committee told
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Attorneys for several federal agencies in mid- May told the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight that an anti-lobbying bill introduced by its chairman Rep. William Clinger (R-Penn.) in March goes too far in prohibiting federal agency personnel from talking about issues that are the subject of congressional legislation.
Clinger’s bill, which would attach to appropriations bills, would ban any news release, oral or written statement, or other communication or activity “however small” which would support or oppose legislation by Congress. The President and Vice President would be exempt from the ban. Agency heads and Senate-confirmed officials would be allowed to voice the President’s views, but only when communicating through “radio, television, or other public communication media.”
In a letter to the committee, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois said the proposed restrictions would necessarily undermine the President’s constitutional responsibility to “communicate freely with citizens” by limiting his ability to act through subordinates.
A witness wearing a hood testified in an electronically altered voice that the Environmental Protection Agency had coerced him into lobbying Congress by sending him several faxed fact sheets on pending legislation. The Washington Post reported that the witness was a lobbyist for the national Spa and Pool Institute. (H.R. 3078)