A new bill seeks to curb lobbying in government offices, following Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen’s call to expand the Lobbyists Law in his conviction of former prime minister Ehud Olmert for bribery this week.
MKs Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and David Tsur (Hatnua) submitted the legislation on Wednesday, calling it the Machers Bill, a derogatory Yiddish term for someone who is well-connected.
Yacimovich’s and Tsur’s bill would expands laws pertaining to lobbyists, proposed by Yacimovich and now-Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar in 2008, that currently apply only to the Knesset, to government ministries, municipalities, state-owned companies and other public offices.
“The presence of machers in public offices became a fact on the ground long ago,” the bill’s explanatory portion reads. “They know the bureaucratic system well and enjoy personal connections with officials and take care of their clients’ needs for a fee. This phenomenon creates an inappropriate situation in which those with money get better care by government bodies due to their macher’s talents and connections.”
The bill also states that such lobbyists are often connected to corruption and criminal activity.
In addition, the legislation quotes Rozen’s ruling: “Use of mediators – machers, as they’re commonly known – to promote interests in public offices is a common phenomenon in Israeli public service. Machers can arrange and smooth matters and bureaucratic processes… This is a fast, comfortable route that is not open to innocent, regular citizens who take the normal path… This is an inappropriate and corrupt phenomenon.
“This situation deteriorates citizens’ trust in public services and government institutions,” Rozen added. “Lawmakers should make the limits of what is permissible and forbidden clear even in areas of legitimate lobbying.”