Lobbyists on both sides of the political aisle raised eyebrows at President Barack Obama's call for more disclosure by lobbyists and more restrictions on their campaign contributions.
"Please...limit my campaign contributions. Please," Richard Gold, a Democrat and head of the public policy group at Holland & Knight, wrote in an e-mail after the speech. But "disclosing every contact will encourage more people to de-register and provide less, not more transparency."
One prominent Democratic lobbyist declined to be named speaking about the president's proposals, but sardonically e-mailed that "banning donations from lobbyists -- finally Obama is doing something that is really popular with the lobbyists."
Wayne Berman, a prominent Republican who co-chairs Ogilvy Government Relations, called the proposals part of the administration's efforts "to curtail free speech." Lobbyists are currently required to report every contact under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but Berman wrote in an e-mail that those requirements strike a balance between First Amendment rights "and the constitutional requirement to protect our national interest. Contacts on behalf of American unions, workers, companies or interest groups are protected by the right to petition and the freedom of speech. This proposal is an attempt to further empower the permanent bureaucracy at the expense of the citizenry."