2015-10-23

ICANN Lobbying, Conflicts, Ethics, Transparency, Accountability, Disclosure

The word "lobbying" was used 22 times yesterday at the ICANN 54 Public Forum in Dublin, Ireland--the first 3 times in the question asked via email by the editor of Domain Mondo. The next 10 times in interchanges between Kieren McCarthy and ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade. The video of the Public Forum and the transcript excerpts of the above are at the Domain Mondo post: ICANN 54 Public Forum Video, Q&A, ICANN, INTA, IANA, Lobbyists.

The final 9 uses of the word "lobbying" were by Rick Lane, Sr. Vice President Government Affairs at 21st Century Fox, and member of the ICANN Business Constituency, who spoke in response to Fadi's "give and take about lobbying" referenced above [Lane starts @03:34:46 on the livestream video here] (emphasis added)

Thank you. My name is Rick Lane I’m with 21st Century Fox. I wanted to respond to Fadi's give and take about lobbying and he's factually accurate which is there are definitions of what is lobbying. The Lobbying Disclosure Act [LDA] has a very narrow definition. And the money you report is very limited to your actual lobbying of Capitol Hill. Also requires that you lobby on -- you list what issues you have lobbied on. So the IANA transition. But then it's very broad in who you lobbied. House, Senate, NTIA, Department of Commerce. The next one that he showed was the tax form. Tax form is much broader. Includes grass-roots lobbying, so if you're trying to get other groups to join you and you're paying those groups. Also includes state lobbying.

The third one is the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That's the one that the U.S. uses where if you are representing a foreign government in front of the U.S. Congress or any agencies, you have to file with the Justice Department. The reason for that is that the Justice Department and Congress and American people want to know if there is undue influence by foreign governments on the U.S. Congress. Those filings are very detailed. They include who you met with, how much money you spent on expenditures, what you talked about, and I think that's what this community is more looking for. Not the LDA or your -- your tax because those are just dollar amounts. They're not really meaningful. What's really meaningful is what were the issues discussed? What were the resources? And the other important thing to know is those filings are only U.S. centric. And ICANN has told us over and over they are about the world. And we like that. So if you're only filing about what you're doing in the U.S., what about meetings in China, Brazil, Argentina? Anyplace else in the world that doesn't have by their federal laws the requirements to register lobbyists or require those expenditures.

So I think what we're asking and the B.C. asked this in its recent filing [timer sounds ] that we want to add an additional bylaw that requires ICANN or any individual acting on ICANN's behalf to make periodic public disclosures of their contacts with any government official as well as activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of those would enable the entire community to evaluate the statements and activities of such persons in their role as representing ICANN and in fact the ICANN community. So the answers were very narrow that Fadi gave about U.S. lobbying law, which I'm in charge of our lobbying ethics and lobbying filings so I know them very well. But we're talking very broad.

Wolfgang Kleinwachter: I think your point is clear and Steve [Crocker, ICANN Board Chairman] will react.

Steve Crocker: Thank you. Thank you very much for your speech. We’ll look into this.

Rick Lane: And hopefully it's part of Work Stream 1 and included as part of the bylaws. Thank you.

Fadi Chehade: Sorry, if I may just clarify, we do not have lobbyists that we don't disclose. Period. Let’s just be very clear. Any lobbyist we pay is disclosed.

Right but --

Fadi Chehade: all the lobbyists we have in the U.S. --

Steve Crocker: Fadi --

Fadi Chehade: This is an important point because there's a definition of lobbyists but it's not people who influence outside of the U.S.

Steve Crocker: Stop. Please stop.

Fadi Chehade: This is actually wrong.

Steve Crocker: Please stop. Thank you.

Wolfgang Kleinwachter: By the way, your speech is on the record so it means everybody can read it.



Methinks Fadi doth protest too much--what's ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade trying to hide? 




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