A civil ombudsman’s decision that top government officials should reveal the identities of former public-sector clients is leading other politicians to formulate a new law ordering public disclosure of all clients. The goal is more openness to reduce potential for conflicts of interest.
Controversy has swirled for months since Sylvi Listhaug of the Progress Party was named agriculture minister in the new conservative government. Listhaug most recently had been working for public relations firm First House and she refused to reveal who her clients had been, citing confidentiality clauses she was obliged to honour in earlier contracts.
That didn’t sit well with various lobbyists and other politicians, leading to the request for a ruling by the civil ombudsman. He decided that Listhaug and others in high-ranking political positions should reveal their former public sector clients but not those from the private sector.
Politicians like Per Olaf Lundteigen from the Center Party and Bård Vegar Solhjell from the Socialist Left party (SV) don’t see why that should make a difference, arguing that all former clients should be revealed. Lundteigen told newspaper Dagsavisen that he’d be spending the Christmas holidays formulating a proposed law to that effect, in an effort to settle the issue.