Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HVP deal may have violated the Lobbyist Registration Act

Brad Cabana made an important observation on Twitter today.  It appears that Gene Coleman and Nick McGrath were in violation of the "Lobbyist Registration Act" when the controversial deal with Humber Valley Paving was being negotiated.  Here are the relevant parts of the Act:

 2. (c) (xvi) In this Act, "lobby " means to communicate with a public-office holder for remuneration or other gain, reward or benefit, in an attempt to influence public-office holders relating to the terms of a contract, the choice of a contractor, or the administration, implementation or enforcement of a contract.

2. (f) (i) "public-office holder" includes a member or an officer of the House of Assembly
6. (1)  In this section, 
(a)  "employee " includes an officer who is compensated for the performance of his or her duties; 
(b)  "in-house lobbyist" means a person who is employed by an organization   
(ii)  a part of whose duties as an employee is to lobby on behalf of that organization if the employee's duties to lobby together with the duties of other employees to lobby would constitute 20 % of time at work of one full time employee, assessed in a 3 month period, were those duties to lobby to be performed by only one employee; 
19. A consultant lobbyist or in-house lobbyist shall not lobby a public-office holder unless that person is registered in the registry of lobbyists with respect to those lobbying activities. 

Since McGrath has publicly admitted to verbally discussing the termination of the contract with Coleman, this clearly fits the definition of "lobbying".  I guess it is possible that HVP does so little lobbying that it wouldn't count as 20% of the time of one employee, but that seems unlikely.  I have not been able to check the registry of lobbyists myself (my browser is incompatible) but I am told that Coleman does not appear.

Here are the penalties.  It looks as though HVP might be forced to pay their bond penalty after all (see (6)).
31.  (1)  Every person who fails to comply with a provision of this Act is guilty of an offence. 
(5)  A person who is guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction, for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $25,000 and, for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $100,000. 
(6)  In addition to the penalty referred to in subsection (5), the court may, where a person is guilty of an offence under this section, confiscate the proceeds of lobbying which were improperly obtained and direct that those proceeds be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.


Brad Cabana said...

The 20 % criteria only applies to "in-house lobbyists". The other type of lobbyist does not have the 20% requirement

tbaird said...

I figured that since Gene Coleman was a director of HVP, he would fall under "in-house lobbyist" rather that "consultant lobbyist". I could be wrong.

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