Calgary

More fines levied in UCP 'kamikaze' leadership campaign investigation

The Alberta Election Commissioner has leveled more fines tied to the ongoing investigation of the so-called "kamikaze" United Conservative Party leadership campaign of Jeff Callaway. 

Alberta's election commissioner has ordered Jeff Park to pay $10,500 for donating money that was not his

So far, $31,000 in fines have been levied in connection with donations to the 2017 UCP leadership campaign of Jeff Callaway, shown above. (CBC)

The Alberta Election Commissioner has leveled more fines tied to the ongoing investigation of the so-called "kamikaze" United Conservative Party leadership campaign of Jeff Callaway.

Jeffrey Park, who was Callaway's executive assistant during the campaign, has been fined a total of $10,500 for contributing money that was "given or furnished by another person," and for providing funds to his wife, Michelle, who then donated to the campaign.

A letter disclosed when Callaway and several others sought an injunction against the investigation shows the election commissioner determined a corporation controlled by Calgary businessman Robyn Lore donated $60,000 to the Callaway campaign through his communications manager, Cam Davies.

It's alleged that money was distributed to individuals like Park, who then donated it to the campaign in order to make it look legitimate.

Corporations are barred from making political donations.

Park's pay

Park said in an interview Thursday that he was paid for his work on the campaign by Energize Alberta, which he says he thought was a political action committee but is actually another corporation with Lore as a director. 

He said the money was paid directly from Davies, but that he didn't find that particularly unusual. 

He donated a total of $7,000 through himself and his wife after receiving a payment of $10,000 for his work. 

Park says he doesn't think he did anything wrong. 

"My role in the campaign was not financial. I was not obligated to know that. I went to work for Energize, I talked to the CFO of the campaign.… My obligation was just to speak with the CFO and make sure that the CFO believed this was all above board, which I did," he said. 

"So other than that I had no knowledge nor obligation to have any knowledge of the other financial arrangements."

Park says it looks to him like it was "structured so that I wouldn't know what was going on."

"If I were guilty, I probably could have gotten a much better deal, because I would've known something," said Park. 

"I would have been able to flip, I would have been able to tell them things they did not know. But they knew more than I did about the financing, about the allegations, at least, of backroom deals." 

Park says he is considering options for an appeal with his lawyer. 

$31,000 in fines

The fines against Park bring the total for irregular contributions to the campaign to $31,000, levied against four individuals. Two people have received letters of reprimand for their donations.

Davies was also fined a total of $15,000 for obstruction of an investigation.

In addition, documents obtained by CBC News show Callaway and his former CFO, Lenore Eaton, are each facing the prospect of a $50,000 fine or two years in prison for "corrupt practices" in breach of the Elections Act.

Callaway has also been ordered by the election commissioner to repay $26,500 in donations, according to documents revealed in a court battle against the investigation, but that fine has not been officially posted on the commissioner's website.

'Kamikaze' campaign

Callaway ran a "kamikaze" campaign in 2017 on behalf of current premier-designate Jason Kenney, who won the party leadership on Oct. 28, 2017.

Callaway ran for the sole purpose of targeting Kenney's chief rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, and then dropping out of the race to support Kenney.

Both men deny the allegations, but CBC News has obtained emails showing higher-ups in Kenney's campaign circle providing resources — strategic political direction, media, and debate talking points, speeches, videos and attack advertisements — to the Callaway campaign.

There was a timeline for when Callaway would drop out of the campaign and throw his support behind Kenney.

Kenney's deputy chief of staff, Matt Wolf, even emailed a resignation speech to Callaway the day he dropped out of the leadership race.

It's just one aspect of a troubled leadership race, which is being investigated by the RCMP.

CBC News has previously revealed voter fraud took place in the contest and confirmed a recent raid by the RCMP on a business owned by incoming Calgary-East MLA Peter Singh was tied to their separate investigation into voter fraud.

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca.

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