A former member of Stephen Harper's office has breached the federal code of conduct for lobbyists.
The Lobbying Commissioner has determined that long-time Conservative staffer Keith Beardsley did not respect his five-year cooling off when he tried to set up a high-level meeting for one of his clients in 2009.
Mr. Beardsley worked in the Prime Minister's Office as a deputy chief of staff and has worked as head of research for the Progressive Conservative Party over a 30-year career in politics.
One year after he left Mr. Harper's team and started working for True North Public Affairs, Mr. Beardsley contacted the PMO and left a message for chief of staff Guy Giorno, suggesting that he might want to meet his client.
At the time, True North was working for DAVE Wireless, whose chairman was well-known businessman John Bitove.
"He is in Ottawa on Monday looking to talk about Globalive, the telecom issue and the CRTC. So because of his connections in Toronto, I just wanted to know if Guy wanted to meet with him quickly," Mr. Beardsley said on the voice-mail of Mr. Giorno's assistant.
However, one has to be a registered lobbyist to set up meetings with federal officials, which Mr. Beardsley was prevented from doing for the first five years of his retirement.
Mr. Beardsley is the second high-level Conservative official to be found in breach of the code of conduct that was beefed up by the Harper government in 2006. Last December, Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd concluded that former MP Rahim Jaffer conducted unregistered lobbying activities on behalf of his company.
Still, breaches of the code of conduct carry no fines or jail terms.
In a statement, Mr. Beardsley said he has reviewed the report and accepts the Commissioner's findings.
"I now have one more year to go under the [five-year] ban and I will be doing my best to comply and keep the highest profession standards possible," he said.
Mr. Giorno, a lawyer with expertise in lobbying regulations, said he was pleased with the findings in the report.
"My consistent practice was not to investigate or make judgments myself, but to refer irregularities or allegations to the proper authorities and let them do their job," he said in a statement. "The appropriate process was followed and I am pleased that it is concluded."
In a news released, Ms. Shepherd said that Mr. Beardsley failed to live up to the rules that were established in 2006 by the Harper government's Accountability Act.
"I found that, for payment and on behalf of a client, he attempted to arrange a meeting with a public office holder, which is an activity that requires registration by consultant lobbyists. As he was prohibited from engaging in registrable lobbying activities, I concluded that he breached the Principle of Professionalism of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct," Ms. Shepherd said.