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B.C. lobbyist fined for registering when it wasn't required

The B.C. lobbyists registrar office has nabbed its first offender – a consultant who registered when he was not required to and, in other instances, failed to de-register when he completed his work.

Michael Bailey, a lobbyist with Western Policy Consultants and aide to former B.C. premier Bill Bennett from December, 1980 to March, 1985, was fined $25 for each of 13 offences.

The registry office became aware of the problems as a result of a media report in May, 2011, that stated Mr. Bailey was registered as a lobbyist for an organization that denied he was working for them. An investigator subsequently contacted every organization that Mr. Bailey stated he represented.

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In seven instances, the organizations told the investigator that Mr. Bailey had not been hired as a lobbyist, although he was registered as representing them. Mr. Bailey told the investigator he registered in some cases in anticipation of a contract that did not materialize and he did not de-register when he was not hired. In other instances, he believed it was important to disclose his dealings with groups that were seeking changes in government policy, although he did not have a contract to represent them.

He did not de-register in six instances after his contract with a client had ended. The investigator found one case in which the information provided by Mr. Bailey was accurate.

Mr. Bailey had undermined the integrity of the registry and clouded its transparency by entering incorrect information, Jay Fedorak, who conducted the investigation, stated in his ruling. Although Mr. Bailey did not receive any financial benefit, the contravention was not a minor matter, he added. Even if the intent was innocent, the effect on the registry was significant, Mr. Fedorak said.

Mr. Bailey would not comment on his case, but Geoff Plant, a spokesman for Western Policy Consultants and a former B.C. attorney general, said Mr. Bailey "acted out of an abundance of caution to try and ensure that no one could accuse him of hiding anything."

The penalty was less than a downtown Vancouver parking ticket, Mr. Plant said. "The value in the exercise is that those of us who are engaged in work that brings us under the lobbyist act now know we have to be really careful about dotting our i's and crossing our t's," he said. "I think the office is trying to send a message but without penalizing Mr. Bailey."

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