Patriot Act Campaign May Violate Anti-Lobbying Act

"The Justice Department has urged U.S. attorneys to contact congressional representatives who voted against a key anti-terrorism provision of the USA Patriot Act," the Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports. "An Aug. 14 memorandum from Guy A. Lewis, director of the executive office for United States Attorneys, encourages federal prosecutors 'to call personally or meet with ... congressional representatives' to discuss 'the potentially deleterious effects' of an amendment approved in the House last month that would cut off funding for 'sneak and peek' warrants in terrorism cases. Attached to the memo is a list of names and telephone numbers of House members, with an asterisk next to the names of those who voted in favor of the amendment .... Justice officials said they believe the effort does not violate the Anti-Lobbying Act, which generally prohibits government employees from lobbying for or against legislation. But Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday questioning whether a current speaking tour by Ashcroft and contacts between U.S. attorneys and members of Congress amount to a violation of the law."