Accidental Deliberations points the way to a Halifax Daily News article (also noted by Keith) that removes any doubt that the CPC’s Conadscam wasn’t just about violating election advertising spending limits, but was also about funneling extra taxpayer dollars into the coffers of Conservative campaigns.
A Conservative campaign manager admitted exactly that:
The campaign manager for Halifax Conservative candidate Andrew House said the federal party suggested the deal to that riding association.Maximize the spending, and maximize the refund from the public coffers.
"What the federal party did was it said, 'Look, it will benefit them through controlling the advertising, but it will also benefit the local association because you can maximize the spending,'" Jordi Morgan said yesterday.
"From our understanding of the legislation, it was totally straight up and there was nothing that was seen as underhanded or any of that."
We’ve seen in the recent past that the Cons aren’t very good at interpreting election law; indeed, they’ve broken it before. Harper himself violated the donation limit. Remember this Conservative about-face last Christmas?
After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.So, as I said they’ve shown before they have either have no understanding of, or respect for, election and political financing law, so it’s unsurprising that they’re wrong here too. Don’t they have any lawyers in the Conservative Party? Or do they just not care to listen to them if their interpretation of the law gets in the way of their goals, by any means necessary?
And the muddle over the disclosure meant that at least three party members -- including Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- donated more than the legal limit last year.
Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.
The Daily News article also details the transfers to a number of local ridings for the purchase of national advertising :
The House campaign got a cheque for $4,733.48 from the Conservative Fund of Canada on Jan. 12, 2006. It transferred $4,736.48 back to the party's national fundraiser Jan. 23.
Rakesh Khosla's campaign in Halifax West shuffled $11,841.20 with the national party.
Robert Campbell's Dartmouth-Cole Harbour riding association exchanged $3,947.07.
That translates into ill-gotten refunds from the taxpayer of $2840 for the Halifax Conservatives, $7104.72 for the Halifax-West Conservatives, and $2368.24 for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Conservatives. Their cuts for funneling money from the national campaign through their books to let the national campaign spend over its Elections Canada mandated advertising spending limit.
Naturally, although they’ve been caught with their hands in the cookie jar the Conservatives are still insisting they did nothing wrong. Although, before they finally admitted they broke the law in the donations case, they kept on protesting their innocence there too:
When The Canadian Press first reported Baird's comments and the apparent breach of the law, Tory officials angrily insisted they'd "fully complied'' with the law and that delegate fees could only be considered donations if the convention turned a profit.Then, fast-forward to their coming clean a few months later, conveniently during the holidays when they hoped no one would notice:
The Tories persisted in this argument even after Elections Canada officials made it clear that profit had nothing to do with it and that the Tory interpretation of the law was incorrect.
"I can fax you scads of material on this. This is the way it's been done for time immemorial,'' Conservative party legal counsel, Paul Lepsoe, told CP last summer.
Harper spokesman Dimitris Soudas said that while the Conservative party continues to believe convention fees shouldn't be subsidized by taxpayers, it "has indicated from the beginning that it will comply with any requirements'' imposed by Elections Canada, and it has filed the revised financial report "to reflect this decision.''So, how long will it be before the Conservatives admit they were wrong here too, and that the Conservative Party of Canada, once again, flagrantly abused Canada’s election laws? Christmas is a little ways ways off. Maybe Thanksgiving?
Keep an eye on the news during while you're eating turkey, the Conservatives may try to hide an mea culpa in the stuffing. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers