Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lobbyist and Government Ethics Resources in the U.S. And Canada

Last week, in a huge scandal that is reverberating through the halls of Capitol Hill in the United States, lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, including high level Republicans in the Bush administration.

The Washington Post has compiled a large collection of material on the case, including articles on topics such as the legality of lobbying and the relationship between Abramoff and political heavyweights.

In the United States:

  • U.S. Senate - Lobbying: includes information about the Lobbying Disclosure Act, a history of lobbying in the States, and links to public records filed under this and other acts on government ethics
  • Office of the Clerk - U.S. House of Representatives - Public Disclosure: "Members, officers, and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives are required by certain House Rules and federal statutes to file official documents on travel, income, gifts, etc. and to make this information available to the public as Public Disclosure documents". The site also links to information about the activities of lobbyists trying to influence members of the House
  • Center for Responsive Politics ("Open Secrets - Money in Politics"): monitors lobbying spending on Capitol Hill, and includes the political spending patterns of various industries. It also gives an industry-by-industry spending breakdown and has a searchable database of individual lobbyists, lobbying firms, and client businesses. The non-profit research group is funded by the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Carnegie Corporation, and other foundations
  • Project on Government Oversight: this independent NGO sees its mission as the investigation of corruption in order to achieve a more accountable and open U.S. government. Among its activities are the tracking of government contractors and lobbyists, the monitoring of the "revolving door" between lobbyists and government officials who go back and forth between the private and the public sectors, as well as the protection of whistleblowers in government
  • Center for Ethics in Government: part of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the website provides information on ethics laws and commissions for each U.S. state, laws covering gifts, nepotism and conflicts of interest, and news stories about government ethics issues

In Canada:

  • Act to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act: the Library of Parliament put together material about Bill C-15 (S.C. 2003, c. 10), including the text of the legislation, key debates from Parliament, departmental background information and a legislative summary by the Library of Parliament. The amendments were introduced as part of the federal government's "ethics reform package"
  • Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) : another complete package of background information put together by the Library of Parliament about this Act, which is another component of the federal government's ethics package
  • Democracy Watch Government Ethics Campaign: Democracy Watch is an independent lobby group that campaigns for stronger ethics, electoral finance, lobbyist and whistleblower rules in Canada. The website contains a news section, links to ethics rules and enforcement systems (e.g. conflict of interest codes from the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, the Privy Council, Treasury Board, etc.), and links to federal and provincial lobbyist registries. Democracy Watch is very critical of the 2 pieces of legislation described above

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger pseudosig said...

I don't think simple transparency is enough to reform Lobbying. I think the problem is deep rooted in career politics.

The Farce Report

2:40 pm  
Blogger marcsnyder said...

You might want to add Quebec's Commissaire au lobbyisme to your list of ressources.

MS

3:08 pm  

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