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Thursday, January 31, 2013

All 35 cases flagged in Elections Alberta probe linked to Tory party

All 35 cases flagged in Elections Alberta probe linked to Tory party

There were no major bombshells as Elections Alberta posted violations of campaign financing rules from the past three years on its website Thursday morning, but the list of files points the finger squarely at the long-governing Progressive Conservative party.
All of the 35 cases posted on the site involved either the Tory party or one of its constituency associations.
“I would suggest it’s because they are the government,” said chief electoral office Brian Fjeldheim.
“Perhaps some people had problems differentiating between the Progressive Conservative party and the Progressive Conservative government.”
There were 24 cases between April 2010 and June 2011 of direct contributions — where a “prohibited corporation” such as a municipality, school board or post-secondary institution purchased tickets to a Tory fundraiser.
There are another 11 cases between March and November 2010 of indirect contributions, where a public body reimbursed a staff member or elected official who had purchased tickets to an event.
In all cases, the PC party or its constituency association has either voluntarily returned the money, been advised to return the money or been ordered by Fjeldheim to pay reimbursement.
Fjeldheim has not recommended prosecution in any of the cases. But he said that in some of the files, Elections Alberta is still considering whether to ask for charges to be laid in relation to provisions that made it illegal for a political entity to knowingly or willingly solicit donations.
The Election Accountability Amendment Act, which came into effect at the beginning of the year, allows Fjeldheim to release details of investigations where violations have occurred, going back to December 2009. Before that, he said he could not legally disclose the particular of cases.
Opposition parties had called for full disclosure of all election infractions going back to 2004, when the law around prohibited corporations was enacted.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said on Wednesday that today’s action was at least a positive first step.
“It’s about time somebody was held accountable for the systematic, ongoing breaking of the election law,” she said.
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