Column: Lobbying against lobbying reform bill
"The National Right to Life Committee and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) are locking horns -- not over abortion, but over whether thousands of top executive branch officials should have to disclose the names of people who lobby them.

Driven by the over-the-top, clandestine lobbying of Bush administration officials by now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has unanimously approved the Executive Branch Reform Act. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she backs the measure, which would require senior bureaucrats to report quarterly whom they speak to about government actions, and that she expects it to get a vote in the House.

But Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, is vowing to stop the bill at all costs. He thinks it would discourage officials from meeting with citizens, including his own members. That makes it downright undemocratic. And he is consistent: He led a coalition that helped kill broad ethics reform legislation last year because it would have imposed a similar type of reporting requirement on grass-roots lobbying.

Grass-roots and executive-branch disclosure "are of a kind," Johnson said. "They both have as a purpose to insulate policymakers from ordinary citizens and citizen groups in order to enhance the influence of certain inside-the-Beltway elites." He points out, for example, that communications from lawmakers and other elected officials would not be disclosed under the Waxman proposal."

Get the Story:
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum: Lobbying Bill Sparks Populist Uprising -- on Both Sides (The Washington Post 3/6)
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