Inside Politics

Election Robocall Data Dump - 12 Conservative candidates on the 2011 RackNine client list

For the latest news on the still unfolding saga of those misleading automated calls that attempted to send voters to bogus polling stations, read Laura Payton's report right here

UPDATE - RackNine CEO Matt Meier has issued a statement on the investigation: 
As CEO of Racknine, I was shocked and distressed to learn that some party had used our services to try and disrupt voting during the 2011 federal election. We take these allegations very seriously.Our dialling services have been used successfully by hundreds of campaigns to inform voters of where and when to vote in many elections. We believe that our technology has helped engage more voters in the electoral process. We are committed to ensuring that those who misused our services will face the full penalty of law, and will continue to work proactively with Elections Canada and all law enforcement agencies to help identify the culprits.

RackNine was a supplier of automated calling services for several Conservative candidates during the 2011 election. No allegations of wrongdoing have been made against the candidates.

From candidate electoral reports available through the Elections Canada website: 

(Note: The second line refers to the expense category under which the amount was listed.)

Rona Ambrose (Edmonton Spruce Grove)
Miscellaneous expenses
Apr. 11, 2011    Racknine Inc    1,175.43   
May 9, 2011    Racknine Inc    367.54   
May 1, 2011    Racknine Inc    5,575.36

Ryan Hastman (Edmonton Strathcona)
Advertising - other
Apr. 27, 2011    RackNine Inc.    4,252.50
May 6, 2011    RackNine Inc.    1,683.16   
Surveys - other research
May 5, 2011    RackNine Inc.    816.19   

Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre)
Advertising - other
May 9, 2011    RACKNINE INC    1,550.43

Cathy McLeod (Kamloops - Thompson - Cariboo)
Advertising - radio/TV
May 24, 2011    RackNine Inc.     328.52   

Lee Richardson (Calgary Centre)
Election surveys - other research
May 9, 2011    Racknine Inc.    501.87

Devinder Shory (Caglary Northeast)
Office expenses - other
May 13, 2011    RACK NINE INC    580.30

Tim Uppal (Edmonton - Sherwood Park)
Office expenses - other
May 3, 2011    Rack Nine Inc.    1,199.45     

According to invoices submitted to Elections Canada posted by the NDP research office,  there were also several payments to RackNine that do not show up in the list of direct campaign expenses:
Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest)
May 4, 2011 - $117.75 (GOTV campaign)

Lavar Payne (Medicine Hat)
May 4, 2011 - $26.01 .

According to the correspondence that the Harper campaign included with this invoice, this was related to a final GOTV phone blitz in "swing" ridings  the weekend before the election. It appears that RackNine initially billed the full cost, which remains unknown, to the Conservative Party of Canada, which passed the cost onto participating campaigns -- including, in this case, that of the party leader. 

It's worth noting that, in the attached emails, the Harper team member charged with handling the invoice initially seems unsure why the campaign is being asked to pay for the calls. Eventually, he decides to pay it, as they were apparently planning to charge the national campaign for a portion of "phone bank" costs, and didn't want to get into a "dispute" over $118.

Meanwhile, Payne, whose agent filed the same invoice in support of its expense claim, albeit with a different amount listed at the bottom, apparently paid just $26.01 for a personalized phone blast in his riding of Medicine Hat, which, as with Harper's claim, was charged to his campaign on behalf of the Conservative Fund.

Leon Benoit (Vegreville-Wainwright)
Apr. 31, 2011 -  $4,830.00 (teletown hall)
Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
April 19, 2011 - $4,231.50 (teletown hall)

RackNine billed both the Benoit and Kenney campaigns in US funds, and according to the credit card records included with the Kenney filing, the money was actually paid to Tele-Town Hall LLC 2022378051 DC, an Arlington, VA-based firm that specializes in tele-town halls, which suggests that RackNine may have been simply asking as a middleman or reseller.

Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre)
Apr. 23, 2011 - 165.13 (advance poll message)

This is actually one of two RackNine-related expenses listed in the Hawn's filing -- the other appeared as a direct payment in the expense report, as noted above. This smaller amount was actually paid by a Hawn staffer, Peter Watson, who subsequently invoiced the campaign as part of a separate expense claim.

Michelle Rempel (Calgary Centre - North)
March 16/29, 2011(?) - $2,500 (unknown)

According to the invoice, the money was paid -- in two installments, a $500 retainer before the writs dropped, and the remaining amount after the campaign had begun -- by a "Jason Rempel", who was the recipient of multiple unrelated payments throughout the election.

Lee Richardson (Calgary Centre)
April 25, 2011 - $5,735.00 (teletown hall)

This invoice -- which is over and above the amounts listed earlier -- was paid to RackNine "c/o Glenn Solomon", with an entry for the same amount appearing under Solomon's name for "elections and other surveys". It is unclear what relationship, if any, Solomon, a longtime local Tory supporter, had/has with either the Richardson campaign or RackNine. 
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