Investigations, Allegations, and Denials; Oh My.

There are a lot of things that bother people about politics: lying politicians, cronyism and corruption are the top complaints (or at least the oldest) but another is money.  When the NDP formed government in 2015, one of their platform promises was to remove big money from politics (and effectively cut the Progressive Conservative party off at the bank so to speak).

As of 2016, Elections Alberta rules on political party donations now prohibit corporate and union donations and reduced the total amount that any one person can donate in a calendar year from $15,000 to $4,000.   These rules encouraged the formation of Political Action Committees (PAC), like Jason Kenney’s “Unite Alberta” and “Shaping Alberta’s Future“, that allowed groups to accept donations as third party advertisers.  

A list of registered PACs in Alberta released back in October shows it isn’t just conservatives and car dealerships that have an interest in politics. In fact the oldest registered PACs belong to the Federation of Labour and Public Interest Alberta. However, the list does show there is more money to be made by promising to remove consumer/employee protection than there is by promising to create them. 

There is no legal limitation to PAC donations nor is there a requirement to disclose donors.  While the NDP has filed complaints regarding UCP PACs, they have apparently decided, as government, against closing the loopholes in the rules.  

Elections Alberta rules state that any donation of over $250 must be publicly disclosed on the files and Elections Alberta website. On Saturday, one media outlet published the result of their initial investigation from the list of donors to Jeff Callaway’s UCP Leadership campaign.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, some “donors” were shocked to learn they had contributed to the alleged Kamikaze campaign

Allegedly, Jeff Callaway’s campaign acted as a PAC for team Kenney rather than a legitimate leadership campaign.  Allegedly, people donated money under names that were not their own.  Allegedly, this little charade is a big deal. 

Audio was discovered online in December 2018 detailing a campaign strategy to run Jeff Callaway as a Kamikaze candidate who could help Jason Kenney win the UCP leadership.  Elections Alberta announced that it had received complaints and had appointed an investigator.  The investigation has been broadened to now include donations as well as interference.

According to a letter released Sunday, in addition to monetary fines of up to $50,000, penalties for interfering in an investigation also include up to two years imprisonment.  

files from Thomas Lukaszuk on Twitter

Additionally, Jason Kenney also claims he “didn’t qualify” to use Ontario as his principle residence because he “checked”.  There has been no word yet on whether the Speaker will open an investigation but the day is still young.

This post contains both fact and opinion. 

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

dmaclean@countersign.ca

@Mitchell_AB, @thisweekinAB

 

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