Federal Liberals violated own fundraising rules

The governing Liberals have allowed lobbyists to attend party fundraisers featuring federal cabinet ministers, at times violating restrictions the party announced two years ago, according to a Globe and Mail analysis.

The review of Liberal fundraisers organized since the new rules took effect in early 2017 found nearly half had registered lobbyists in attendance. The research also found that of the more than 200 instances of registered lobbyists at Liberal fundraisers, more than three-quarters of them were registered at the time to lobby the cabinet minister speaking at the event.

The results of the review show that while the Liberal Party in late 2016 unveiled broad restrictions on the attendance of lobbyists at party fundraisers, the reality is that the party is applying its ban narrowly – and that even those narrow restrictions have been violated.

The biggest exception is the party’s decision not to apply its restrictions on attendance by lobbyists if the fundraiser is a “Laurier Club” donor-appreciation event.

Essentially, the Liberal Party is banning lobbyists from attending fundraisers featuring the target of their lobbying when the entry fee is relatively low – such as a $200-a-plate dinner – while allowing them to regularly attend Laurier Club events if they donate the $1,500 a year required for entry into the exclusive club of top donors.