According to the White House blog by Norm Elsen (Special Counsel to the President on (get this) Ethics and Government Reform), government will now be restricting oral communications on anyone attempting to influence the stimulus process:
“First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.
“Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.
“Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists. If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact.”
(emphasis added) I guess this is what the founders meant in the First Amendment, when they said “No law . . . abridging the freedom of speech except when presented with unique circumstances.”
Shopfloor.org has more here.