International Sunlight


Riffing off of the estimable Nisha Thompson’s Local Sunlight feature, there are a couple of Sunlight related stories happening across our northern border and across the pond in Europe. First, our friends in Europe are taking after our Congress and considering passing sweeping lobbying disclosure for the EU for the very first time:

The European Commission has proposed new rules that could require European Union lobbyists to register for the first time, as part of a new transparency effort spawned after news reports of Abramoff’s activities broke.

Andreas Geiger, a founder and managing partner at Alber & Geiger, a public policy firm with offices in Berlin and Brussels, told The Hill that all lobbyists now need to lobby the EU is to have an access badge. To get one, lobbyists must state who they are working for and undergo a background check. But there are no records of what issues lobbyists are working on, or how much they are getting paid for their work.

There are an estimated 15,000 people who lobby the EU, about half the number who lobby Washington. As in the United States, Geiger says, the lobbying industry is booming in Brussels.

Next up, in Canada, a major scandal is brewing. Imagine if back in 2001 the Democratic leadership bribed Jim Jeffords with $1 million to switch from Republican to Independent and thus tip the Senate majority into Democratic hands. That would certainly be a major national scandal. Well, that’s what’s going on in the maple leaf country. According to TPM:

Back in 2005, while the former Liberal government was tottering on the brink of collapse after many years in power, representatives of the opposition Conservatives went to an independent MP whose vote could topple the government and offered him a bribe for his vote.

The nature and context of the alleged bribe are particularly ghastly. The late Chuck Cadman was then in the final stages of terminal cancer. And in exchange for his vote, Conservative Party reps offered to purchase a $1 million life insurance policy for Cadman "and a few other things" in order to provide for his wife.

Cadman refused, voted to keep the government in power rather than cause a new election, and died a short time later.

And it turns out that the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was opposition leader at the time of the alleged bribe attempt, knew about it:

Stephen Harper knew Conservative party officials were making a financial offer to independent MP Chuck Cadman in exchange for his vote to topple the minority Liberal government in May 2005, a new book charges.

Harper was Opposition leader when two party operatives offered Cadman, who had terminal cancer, a million-dollar life insurance policy, according to the book.

In an audio tape released to the Star by the publisher of Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story, it is clear that Harper knew of the offer when he was interviewed by author Tom Zytaruk in September 2005.