Venstre politician slammed over possible conflict of interest

The old adage that ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ is put to the test, as local politician comes under fire

Can you be a health spokesperson as well as a paid lobbyist for the tobacco industry? That is the question facing Caroline Stage Olsen on social media as a result of a post on Twitter by communications advisor Jonas Juhler Hansen.

The local politician, who is the spokesperson on health matters for Venstre in Copenhagen, has been criticised for wearing too many hats at once. On her LinkedIn page she is also listed as ‘government affairs manager’ for British American Tobacco.

In a posting on the subject, Hansen described the situation as “a bizarre satire”.

Leaving the room
Olsen claims to have never tried to hide the fact that she worked for big tobacco, and she herself asked the health and care administration, of which she is a member, for a ruling on her case, reports TV2 Nyheder.

One of the things the administration rules on is what initiatives Copenhagen intends to take regarding campaigns to stop people smoking or starting to smoke. Olsen has opposed the use of municipal funding for nicotine patches.

The administration ruled there was a conflict of interest, and since December she has been excluded from discussions on tobacco-related matters.

“I think that it is enormously important as a part-time politician to have a job as well,” said Olsen.

“I’m lucky enough to have a job at a large international company where I’m learning a great deal. But I’m also painfully aware of the need to keep my political activities and my full-time job very separate.”