Premier Shawn Graham once visited the Bathurst call centre of a businessman who is now making conflict-of-interest accusations against the president of NB Liquor.
'He really liked what he saw, how we were operating, he liked the site, how we were managing the site. Essentially he looked forward to working with us in the future.'— Barry O'Donnell, businessman
Dana Clendenning is accused of carrying on private business dealings after he was appointed to the liquor corporation's top position, and is facing a hearing in June under the province's conflict of interest law.
So far, Graham has kept his distance from the developing controversy by saying he cannot comment on a case that will be heading before a judge.
Now CBC News has obtained a letter from Graham in which he thanks Barry O'Donnell for hosting him in 2005.
O'Donnell, the Fredericton businessman making the allegations, said back in 2005, he had lunch with Graham, then the province's Opposition leader, and Clendenning, who was the Liberal party's executive director.
Graham later visited the Bathurst call centre that O'Donnell had bought from Clendenning.
At the time, O'Donnell said he was paying Clendenning consulting fees to lobby the Liberals for future job-creation grants.
O'Donnell said Graham made no promises if he became premier.
"I don't think there was too much of a commitment that day," O'Donnell said.
"He really liked what he saw, how we were operating, he liked the site, how we were managing the site. Essentially he looked forward to working with us in the future."
O'Donnell never got any grants after Graham became premier and appointed Clendenning as the president and chief executive officer of NB Liquor.
Clendenning hasn't commented and Graham wasn't available to talk to CBC News about his 2005 meetings with O'Donnell.
Tories demand RCMP investigate complaint
Conservative MLA Rose-May Poirier, the Opposition's critic for NB Liquor, on Thursday again asked Graham about the alleged lobbying.
"Mr. premier, will you bring in the RCMP to investigate the allegations made by the Fredericton businessman?" Poirier said.
Lobbying is legal in New Brunswick and it's not the point of O'Donnell's complaint under the conflict of interest law.
It focuses on whether Clendenning kept invoicing him after he went to work for NB Liquor.
Nothing in O'Donnell's complaint has been proven true.
Graham repeated in question period on Thursday that he wants to let the complaint process take its course at a hearing in June before a judge.