Saskatchewan

Sask. Party pre-election funding appeal promises Premier Moe will personally see list of donors

The Saskatchewan Party is promising that the names of donors who respond to a looming “critical fundraising deadline” will be delivered directly to Premier Scott Moe.

Expert says Sask Party is implying donations will get you in premier’s 'good graces'

A SaskParty fundraising letter says Premier Scott Moe will be shown a list of donors who respond to an urgent appeal for money to fund the 2020 campaign. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Party is promising that the names of donors who respond to a looming "critical fundraising deadline" will be delivered directly to Premier Scott Moe. 

Patrick Bundrock, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Party, reminded members in an email sent Thursday morning that the election was less than 90 days out and "we have to be ready to defeat the NDP." 

Bundrock wrote that the premier "asked me for two things this month: we need at least 800 online donors and we need to raise at least $80,000 online." 

"In two days, I'll be giving Premier Moe a list of people who have donated this month," he wrote. 

The executive director of the Saskatchewan Party, Patrick Bundrock, promised donors their names would be shared with Premier Scott Moe. (Twitter)

Ian Stedman, an expert in government accountability, said this fundraising approach smells bad, even though it likely doesn't violate conflict of interest rules. 

"They are selling a way to get into the good graces of the premier," said Stedman, an assistant professor of Canadian public law and governance at York University. "If you donate, because he needs your donations, then I will let him know you donated, which implies that you will be in his good graces." 

Sask. Party defends 'technique'

Asked why he's planning to give Moe the list of donors, Bundrock said Moe is the leader of the party.

"I think it brings engagement from our members and our donors," Bundrock said.

CBC asked Bundrock why the Premier needs to know the names of the donors, as opposed to simply knowing the total amount of the donation. 

"Well, that's a good point," said Bundrock. "I mean, it's a fundraising technique that we use." 

Asked if it was actually Premier Moe who instructed Bundrock to find 800 donors and raise $80,000 this month, he said this claim was also "a technique for fundraising." 

"These are targets that are set within the party," he said.

Stedman questioned why the Saskatchewan Party is approving a technique that deceives its members. 

"So are you sending out official fundraising emails that are so devoid of truth but your party still thinks they should go out anyways?" Stedman said. 

Ian Stedman, an assistant professor of Canadian public law and governance at York University, says a recent SaskParty fundraising letter 'smells bad." (LinkedIn)

Trudeau did it too, says Sask. Party

Bundrock said other politicians, including Justin Trudeau, take a similar approach. 

He forwarded a fundraising email he received from Trudeau's campaign last October. 

"I'm going to be sending Justin our debate night donor list as soon as it wraps, and I really hope you'll be a part of the 753 Canadians who have already chipped in today to show you're in his corner," wrote Christina Topp, the senior director of fundraising for the Liberal Party of Canada. 

Bundrock said this email shows that "this is a fairly common fundraising message that many parties use." 

Premier's office responds

Asked if Moe would be personally viewing the list of donors as promised by Bundrock, press secretary Jim Billington didn't answer the question directly. 

Billington wrote in an email that Moe doesn't play any role in fundraising, but that as the leader of the Saskatchewan Party he "has been actively preparing for the 2020 Provincial Election." 

Regarding the donor list, Billington wrote, "our understanding is that the 'list' referenced in the fundraising email will be compiled for the means of measuring membership engagement and tracking donation targets." 

Billington added that "the Premier's office will not receive this list, though any member of the public is able to access annual disclosures of political party finances."

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

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