Knesset lobbyists publish their first ethical code

Code forbids giving benefits to MKs, asking politicians to commit to voting a certain way.

Knesset building 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset building 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset lobbyists published an ethical code for the first time on Sunday, following a wave of negative publicity about their profession.
The Forum for Government Connections, which consists of most Israeli lobbying firms, released the list of rules after a series of meetings in which lobbyists discussed the proper way to work with elected officials and government bureaucrats.
In February, Channel 2 investigative program Uvda broadcast a report which used hidden cameras to expose employees of Gilad Lobbying bragging about manipulating MKs and the Knesset Center for Research and Information in order to increase their clients’ revenues.
The new ethical code was based on those of the Association of Accredited Lobbyists to the European Union and the American League of Lobbyists, two of the strictest lobbying groups in the world, according to the Forum.
According to the code's introduction, its goal is to "increase the public's faith in the profession and the democratic process."
Gilad Lobbying was not included in the process of writing the new rules.
"The ethical code was written due to the need to establish moral criteria for the profession, as well as a way of increasing transparency in our work," Behira Bardugo, one of the Forum's founders, explained.
Bardugo called for wiping out "black lobbying," her term for those who work in "dark hallways of the Knesset" without following any rules.
The ethical code forbids lobbyists from offering or giving compensation or other benefits to elected officials or bureaucrats, nor may they work directly or indirectly for them or their parties.
In addition, lobbyists may not demand MKs, ministers or others to commit to voting or acting a certain way.
Lobbyists are not required to publicize meetings with MKs, though the code does demand transparency in their work. They must reveal the name of their customers.
Former MKs and ministers that became lobbyists "may not misuse their knowledge or connections gained in public service," and should not be involved in issues connected to their previous, public role unless at least one year has passed.