Alberta PCs fire back following Wildrose plea to return Katz donation

Alberta PC president Jim McCormick has fired back after Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith called the Elections Alberta's ruling on a substantial donation by made by the Katz Group of Companies into questions.
But the Wildrose party is contesting the $430,000 donation made by the Katz Group in 2012. 2:09

Alberta PC president Jim McCormick has fired back after Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith called the Elections Alberta’s ruling on a substantial donation made by the Katz Group of Companies into question.

The Wildrose party filed a complaint last year when a bank draft for $430,000 was delivered by the Katz Group on behalf of several individuals and companies late in last spring’s provincial election.

The Wildrose party said it appears the individuals and corporations paid the Katz Group back in amounts under $30,000, the annual contribution limit in Alberta.

Following an investigation into the matter, Elections Alberta ruled that $25,000 of the donation, which was attributed to Katz Group CFO Paul Marcaccio, contravened elections law as he isn’t an Alberta resident. The Conservatives returned that portion of the money.

Elections Alberta ruled that the remaining $400,000 contribution would be permitted to stand.

But Smith said the ruling implies a company or union can make million dollar donations, and only have to submit a list of names to qualify the donation.

She describes the Katz Groups' donation as "bridge funding" from a private company instead of a bank, and adds that the province must close the loophole — " a loophole to drive a billionaire through."

She says she would like to see the Tories return the total elections contribution.

"We certainly believe the manner in which these donations were made violated the spirit and intent of the law and therefore should be paid back entirely," said leader Danielle Smith in a news release.

But in a release Wednesday afternoon, PC Alberta president Jim McCormick called the allegations made by the opposition "baseless" and "completely unfounded."

"While we remain focused on the issues that matter to Albertans, the opposition continues a pattern of baseless witch hunts and are more interested in scoring cheap shots than addressing what Albertans expect from all political parties,"  McCormick said in the release.

"We are proud of our fundraising efforts and pleased that the Chief Electoral Officer has confirmed we took all reasonable precautions to ensure we are in full compliance with the rules and the ethical standards surrounding political fundraising in Alberta, as we always do."

He added that, on the party’s request, Elections Alberta has made the full report public for Albertans to read.   Meanwhile, the Alberta Liberals have called for the adoption of federal election laws prohibiting large donations from individuals, corporations and unions.