Election chief looking into obstruction allegations
The province’s election commissioner is digging into allegations someone is attempting to obstruct his investigation into possible irregular campaign donations during the 2017 UCP leadership race.The allegations are raised in a Jan. 24 letter obtained by Postmedia that was sent to an unnamed person who is participating in the investigation into finance allegations related to the Jeff Callaway leadership campaign. In the letter, election commissioner Lorne Gibson said an individual has been trying to contact people involved in the investigation to “dissuade co-operation with investigators and hinder the proper disposition of matters in order to avoid these proceedings.”The letter says that if the obstruction allegations are substantiated, the offence may be contrary to the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, and could also warrant significant penalties if it’s deemed to be a “corrupt practice.”The letter says the recipient will be asked about being contacted by someone attempting to influence participation in the investigation, and directs the recipient to get in touch with his office immediately if the contact took place.An emailed statement attributed to United Conservative Party executive director Janice Harrington said the party is not aware of anyone pressuring people not to participate in the investigation.“The party would not and has not discouraged any individual from co-operating with the election commissioner as legally required. We expect laws to be enforced, and we of course expect the election commissioner to carry out his mandate,” the statement reads.“Neither the party, the leader, nor the leader’s leadership campaign have been approached by the elections commissioner.”In December, United Conservative MLA Wayne Anderson told Postmedia he was meeting with Elections Alberta to discuss what he described as potentially “nefarious” goings-on during the Highwood UCP nomination race, which he lost.Anderson’s rumblings of discontent began when a recording surfaced in which UCP organizers for leadership hopeful Jeff Callaway talk about their guy running a “kamikaze” campaign on behalf of UCP leader Jason Kenney.In the recording, they explain how Callaway would say things about leadership rival and former Wildrose boss Brian Jean — Kenney’s major rival for the top UCP job — that Kenney wouldn’t be able to say.Callaway repeatedly targeted Jean in debates and multiple media interviews throughout the UCP leadership campaign before dropping out of the race and endorsing Kenney.Anderson believes the same people in that recording undermined his own bid for the UCP nomination in Highwood.(Someone is trying to contact people in order to) dissuade co-operation with investigators and hinder the proper disposition of matters.In a Calgary Herald interview when he dropped out of the race, Callaway denied making a deal with Kenney, and he repeated that again in a later email to Postmedia.Callaway said “categorically no” when asked if he ran as a kamikaze contestant or if there was any agreement between him and Kenney, adding he knew Jean better than the other contestants, having worked together as president and leader of the Wildrose party for 2 ½ years.
© PressReader. All rights reserved.