Rivlin restricts lobbyists from most of the Knesset

Move follows TV expose on Gilad Lobbying company.

By
February 9, 2012 17:34
2 minute read.
The Knesset

The Knesset 390 (R). (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)

 
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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin is limiting lobbyists’ activities further than previously intended, he announced on Thursday.

Employees of Gilad Lobbying may no longer have permanent entry passes to the Knesset, and Rivlin plans to examine whether their lobbyist licenses can be rescinded.

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The move comes following a report broadcast by Channel 2 investigative program Uvda Tuesday night, which used hidden cameras to expose Gilad lobbyists bragging about manipulating MKs and the Knesset Center for Research and Information in order to increase their clients’ revenues. The MKs interviewed by Uvda denied being influenced by lobbyists.

Although lobbyists’ attempts to convince MKs to vote a certain way or propose bills that help their clients have been reported many times, their manipulation of the Center for Research and Information is less known. According to the lobbyists filmed by Uvda, Gilad lobbyists encourage MKs to request a report from the Center for Research and Information. They then give slanted information to junior researchers, while claiming to be saving them time and effort.

Rivlin instructed Knesset guards to prevent all lobbyists from entering his office, MKs’ offices, the MKs’ cafeteria, the entrance to the plenum, Knesset legal offices, the Center for Research and Information, as well as the Knesset director-general and secretary’s offices.

Lobbyists will only be permitted to enter any area of the Knesset other than committee rooms if they are personally invited by an MK or the manager of the office in question.

In addition, Knesset employees may not meet with lobbyists without permission from a senior manager.

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Following such a meeting, the worker must give the manager a written summary of what was discussed, as well as any written information given to him or her by the lobbyist.

“This is not just speculation or gossip – this is reality, and it must be taken care of,” Rivlin stated. “We must take drastic measures to ensure that the Knesset is not stomped on by lobbying companies.”

The Knesset Speaker called lobbyists a “stumbling block” that must be “emptied of content,” and an existential threat to the legislature.

Last week, Rivlin announced that he planned to limit lobbyists by amending the Knesset’s ethical code. The changes include forbidding MKs’ assistants from serving as lobbyists, prohibiting all gifts from lobbyists, and requiring MKs to report any written information they receive from lobbyists.

The Knesset speaker said on Thursday that he will work to get the approval of all faction heads to finalize the changes to the ethical code as soon as possible.

Parliamentarians will be individually responsible if the rules are broken.

“Public servants can no longer say their hands are clean and that they are not at fault,” Rivlin explained.

In the past six years, the amount of lobbyists increased by 400 percent, from 50 to 210, the Knesset spokesman’s office reported.

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