Ontario Liberal Party held 100 exclusive fundraising events in 2015
Tickets to 23 events benefiting Kathleen Wynne's party topped $4,000 each
Exclusive fundraising events with ticket prices of up to $10,000 helped Kathleen Wynne's Ontario Liberal Party collect the bulk of the money it raised from donors in 2015.
A newly filed financial statement obtained by CBC News show the Liberals held exactly 100 fundraising events last year. Twenty-three of them featured ticket prices of $4,000 or more.
- Ontario Liberals outpace PCs, NDP in donations
- Ontario political donations surged during key policy decisions
- Wynne promises to cancel 'private' fundraising events
Such private fundraising events are at the heart of the controversy that triggered a proposal to ban corporate and union donations to the political parties starting next January.
The Wynne government was under fire for holding events that were not publicized where deep-pocketed donors would pay thousands of dollars to get up-close access to the premier or cabinet ministers, with the proceeds going to the Ontario Liberal Party.
The new documents reveal how profoundly the Liberal fundraising machine has depended on the tactic of ticketed events, with an average of two such functions every week.
The party's 2015 financial statement, submitted Tuesday to the Elections Ontario head office, lists the fundraising events for the year. It shows 100 events in 2015, plus a handful that happened in 2014 for which the money was collected in 2015. The ticketed events raised $7,032,025, providing the vast majority of the $9.2 million in donations the Liberals reported in 2015.
One event, on March 2, 2015, entitled "Evening wth KW" cost $10,000 a ticket. Eight people attended.
The rest of the pricey fundraisers give no indication of which Liberals were the star attractions. That includes another $10,000-per-ticket event on Oct. 26, 2015 listed simply as "Evening Event," attended by nine people, and an Aug. 24, 2015 "Evening Reception" at $9,975 each for the seven ticket-buyers.
"We held a number of events of that nature and we won't anymore," Deputy Premier Deb Matthews told CBC News Thursday. "We've changed so that ministers can't attend these events with their own stakeholders."
Wynne announced in April that she and her ministers would cancel all their upcoming "private" fundraisers. But it's not clear how many events were actually cancelled outright. Instead, the Liberals made fundraisers "public" by posting the date, location and ticket price on the party website.
The parties are not required under Ontario elections law to indicate which donors bought tickets to which events. So unless the Liberals volunteer the information, we won't know who paid $10,000 to be the sole attendee at a "Breakfast Reception" on May 13, 2015, nor which Liberals attended.
Wynne has continued to refuse to reveal who attended similar high-priced events, including a Dec. 7, 2015 event priced at $4,000 a ticket, attended by 19 people, according to the new documents. The Globe and Mail previously reported this fundraiser brought together the financial backers of the Hydro One stock offering with Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and Finance Minister Charles Sousa.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said Thursday her biggest concern is that the Liberal fundraising events allowed wealthy donors to get exclusive access to members of cabinet.
"Their fundraising methods are quite odious and quite questionable particularly when it comes to access to ministers," Horwath told reporters Thursday at the Legislature. "It's outrageous to think that you would have cabinet ministers basically selling tickets for access and then turning around and providing contracts to the very same people that were bellying up at the fundraiser."
Wynne has repeatedly denied any link between government action and Liberal Party donations.
Policy is made based on the evidence," Wynne said in Question Period Thursday, "Policies have nothing to do with the fund-raising that we do."
|Event & Date||Ticket Price||Tickets Sold|
|March 2 "Evening With KW"||$10,000||8|
|April 1 "Evening Reception"||$7,000||9|
|April 27 "Evening Event"||$5,000||15|
|May 6 "Cocktails Event"||$5,000||9|
|May 13 "Breakfast Event"||$10,000||1|
|May 27 "Evening Reception"||$4,000||10|
|June 22 "Evening Event II"||$7,500||4|
|June 23 "Evening Event"||$7,500||12|
|July 6 "Evening Event"||$5,000||29|
|July 28 "Garden Party"||$5,000||31|
|August 24 "Evening Reception"||$9,975||7|
|Sept. 14 "Evening Event"||$4,500||28|
|Sept. 23 "Evening Event"||$4,000||15|
|Oct. 8 "Evening Event"||$5,000||29|
|Oct. 20 "Evening Event"||$5,000||5|
|Oct. 26 "Evening Event"||$10,000||9|
|Nov. 18 "Evening Reception"||$5,000||18|
|Nov. 23 "Evening Event"||$5,000||3|
|Dec. 7 "Evening Reception"||$4,000||19|
|Dec. 7 "Evening Reception"||$4,000||1|
|Dec. 9 "Evening Reception"||$4,000||15|
|Dec. 14 "Evening Event"||$5,000||11|
|Dec. 16 "Evening Event"||$5,000||5|
In contrast to the Liberals, the PCs and NDP held far fewer ticketed fundraisers in 2015, according to their new financial statements.
The Progressive Conservative document shows 12 ticketed events in 2015, collecting $1.5 million in contributions to the party. The PC events included a "Fundraising Lunch" on April 11, 2015, with ticket prices ranging from $150 to $10,500 (paid by one person). the party also held a "Toronto Golf" event on Aug. 12, 2015, at which four donors bought tickets costing $6,250, while 88 people paid $1,500 each.
The NDP filing shows just two fundraising events, the "Stakeholder Social" on April 22, 2015, with prices ranging from $100 to $9,975 (paid by 14 ticket holders), and an event called "Inside Track 2018" on Dec. 9, 2015, where tickets also peaked at $9,975, the maximum annual donation allowed under Ontario's current campaign finance laws. The NDP events raised less than $400,000.