Politics

Ethics commissioner says former Tory policy adviser broke conflict rules

A former policy adviser to a Conservative cabinet minister violated federal ethics rules by taking a job with a lobbying and public relations firm he dealt with while working in public office, says a report from the ethics commissioner.

Policy adviser for Diane Finley took job with lobbying firm during 'cooling off' period

Daniel Kosick and his wife, Jerra, are pictured in 2012. Kosick was found to have violated Conflict of Interest Act rules on post-employment for public office holders. (Daniel Kosick/Facebook)

A former policy adviser to a Conservative cabinet minister violated federal ethics rules by taking a job with a lobbying and public relations firm he dealt with while working in public office, says a report from Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson.

Daniel Kosick, who worked as senior policy adviser to Diane Finley, then the minister of human resources and skills development, accepted a position as a senior communications officer with Flagship Solutions Inc. one month after he left the government in July 2013.

Conflict rules require a one-year "cooling off" period and ban public office holders from accepting job offers from companies with which they had "direct and significant" official dealings during their last year in office.

"I found that while he was a policy adviser, Mr. Kosick had a number of interactions with Mr. Serge Buy, a lobbying consultant with Flagship who was registered to lobby on behalf of a client of Flagship, the National Association of Career Colleges," Dawson wrote in her report.

Met lobbyist 5 times

According to the federal registry of lobbyists, Kosick was lobbied five times by Buy, including three meetings during his last year in Finley's office. The client was lobbying for changes to the Canada Student Grants.

The report notes that Kosick said he believed he was meeting with the National Association of Career Colleges and not Flagship, but Dawson ruled that he should have known that Flagship was lobbying him on behalf of the organization.

Dawson launched the probe on her own initiative on March 2, 2015.

According to the report, Kosick told Dawson he did not check with her office about the employment officer because it "didn't raise any concerns for him."

"Mr. Kosick told me that he started to understand that a deeper connection existed between the NACC and Flagship only after he started working at Flagship," the report reads.

Kosick was hired on June 1, 2010, as a special assistant in Finley's office and became a policy adviser in the same office one year later.

Family ties

Kosick is married to Jerra Kosick, who worked as chief of staff to Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western diversification. She is also the sister of Jenni Byrne, the national campaign director for the Conservative Party.

The Conflict of Interest Act does not provide for any penalties for contraventions, including post-employment provisions.

As for the timing of the release of the report, the campaign period is irrelevant, according to a spokeswoman for Dawson's office.

"The report was released when it was ready, as all others are," said Jocelyne Brisebois.

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