Banned Gilad Lobbyists Return to Knesset

Company's lobbyists were suspended for one month after being caught bragging of influence by investigative TV program.

Most employees of Gilad - Government Relations & Lobbying received permission on Monday to return to the Knesset after a one-month suspension of that privilege.

Tzach Borovich, one of the company's lobbyists who was caught on tape boasting about the company's exploits in manipulating Knesset members, was not pardoned: The Knesset's permits committee, which is chaired by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, suspended his right to parliamentary access for two years.

Tzach Borovich - Sivan Faraj - 06032012
Sivan Faraj

It was Rivlin who moved swiftly after the Channel 2 television investigative program "Uvda" aired its candid-camera coverage of a lecture in which Borovich and others described the work of a lobbyist. They did more than describe, though; their bragging set off shock waves in the Knesset and throughout the lobbying business.

Rivlin used his authority as Knesset speaker to promptly ban all Gilad employees from the legislature. He temporarily suspended their entry permits and pushed for new rules that would severely limit the access of all lobbyists to parliamentarians. For instance, lobbyists were barred from the Knesset dining room.

Gilad Lobbying chairman Ariel Sender, who was interviewed for "Uvda," will be barred from the Knesset until the starts of the summer session, in May, the permits committee decided.

Gilad Lobbying CEO and founder Amir Gilad was given conditional access, meaning that his access is restored but will be revoked if any of his company's lobbyists break the news rules over the next year.

Sitting on the permits committee with Rivlin are MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), who is chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee, and MK Jacob Edery (Kadima).

The permits committee issued its decision yesterday, a week after the hearing it held for Gilad. Amir Gilad attended the hearing, as did the company's representative, attorney Dori Klagsbald.

The company said that Borovich's boasts were far from representative of the real situation and in any case were secondhand: The cases he had described took place before he was even hired, the company said. Furthermore, it said, no Gilad lobbyists had ever misled Knesset members and collective punishment of all company employees was wrong.

Among the firm's achievements claimed by Borovich was the law passed a few years ago requiring all Israeli drivers to carry fluorescent yellow safety vests in their cars and wear them in the event of getting stranded on the shoulder. Borovich said the impetus for the law was the giant lot of fluorescent yellow dye that 3M, one of Gilad's clients, found itself stuck with.

It was not only MKs who were humiliated by the disclosure: Gilad's fellow lobbying firms refused to cooperate with the disgraced agency in cleaning up the mess.