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Corporation fined $18K for funnelling money into 'kamikaze' UCP leadership campaign


A corporation that funnelled money into the United Conservative Party “kamikaze” leadership campaign of Jeff Callaway has been fined $18,373 for prohibited contributions.

In total, Alberta’s election commissioner found six separate incidents where Energize Alberta gave money to the campaign.

Corporations are not allowed to donate money to campaigns in the province. 

The money found its way into the campaign through donors whose names were attached to contribution forms but who did not provide their own funds. 

Envelopes stuffed with cash

Findings from the election commissioner filed as part of an appeal by Callaway showed how the candidate arranged for Calgary businessman Robyn Lore, one of the directors of Energize Alberta, to meet his campaign’s communications director at a downtown Calgary bank and withdraw $60,000 worth of cash and bank drafts for distribution to straw donors.

According to those documents, the campaign was all but broke before the infusion of corporate cash just prior to the deadline for paying fees to the UCP to remain in the race.

The other directors of Energize Alberta are Eugene Chen, Earl Connors and Jeff Fortin, according to registry documents.

Volunteers on the Callaway campaign who have been fined said they were paid by Energize Alberta, rather than the campaign. 

Fines from commissioner

The campaign’s chief financial officer, Lenore Eaton, was also the chief financial officer for Energize Alberta and was fined $10,000 for knowingly making a false statement on the campaign’s filings and for failing to advise the chief electoral officer of money from Energize Alberta. 

The election commissioner has previously imposed $163,850 in fines against 13 people, mostly for irregular donations to the campaign, including $70,000 against Callaway himself. 

One of those fines was for colluding with Lore to circumvent a contribution limit. 

Callaway has applied for a judicial appeal of the rulings against him.

The latest fines bring the total to $182,223.

The irregular contributions aren’t the only controversies swirling around the Callaway campaign.

‘Kamikaze’ campaign

Callaway ran a “kamikaze” campaign in close collaboration with the campaign of current premier Jason Kenney in order to attack Kenney’s chief rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean.

The campaigns worked closely together, with direction coming from Kenney’s team on everything from talking points to when Callaway would drop out of the race to support Kenney. 

Both men deny the allegations, but CBC News has obtained emails and documents that outline the collaboration, including a resignation speech emailed to Callaway’s team from Kenney’s then-deputy chief of staff, Matt Wolf. 

Wolf was recently rehired and joined the staff of the premier’s office as director of issues management.

Allegations of voter fraud

Kenney has also had to fend off allegations that his campaign was involved in voter fraud during the leadership race. 

CBC News has revealed that some fraudulent emails were used to cast ballots in the race and recently revealed one insider’s account of how volunteers asked UCP members for their secure PINs and then passed them on to others to cast a vote for Kenney.

Kenney and the UCP strenuously deny there was any wrongdoing in the race, but Kenney has said he can’t speak for every volunteer on his campaign.

Two insiders identified federal Edmonton Conservative candidate Tim Uppal as a central figure in that voting scheme. 

Uppal denies any involvement.



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