Monday, April 21, 2008

The storm before the typhoon

Yes, the bulk of today’s coverage of the latest round in the Conservative In-and-Out Scandal is focused on their Monty Pythonesque attempt at media spin Sunday afternoon. If you’re worried there’s been little focus on the actual, very serious charges and allegations the Conservatives are facing don’t worry, that focus will come. And then some.

There’s a few reasons for how this first round of coverage has shaken-out. For one, the way the Conservatives handled things yesterday, from secret media briefings to hotel musical chairs to fire escape retreats, was just too good not to be covered, and mocked. It will do them no favours with the public.

As well, until today the details of the warrants leading to the RCMP raid, ie. the new information, will not have been available to the media at large. The Conservatives made only redacted, partial information available to their handpicked media members. The rest of the media aren’t going to cite their competition at length in their reportage even if they had the full, not redacted by the Cons for spin purposes version.

So, today the full, unredacted warrant information leading to the unprecedented RCMP raid on Conservative Party HQ will be available to all and sundry, including the media.

Most media outlets, undoubtedly miffed from the CPC “select media” list, will be on the story, and all its salacious details, with a vengeance. And the “select media” the CPC did invite, no doubt a little embarrassed by all the attention they’re getting today, will be all over the full warrant today too, eager to prove they’re not anybody’s lackeys.

So I’m looking forward to a veritable typhoon of round two in-and-out coverage focused on the nuance of the alleged Conservative scheme, and what led to the RCMP raid. The inept CPC media strategy has guaranteed full and detailed coverage.

And despite the media sideshow, a lot of salaciousness is already emerging from the redacted information the CPC released:

* Barbro Soderberg, the official agent for Tory candidate Steven Halicki, says she spoke to senior party officials and was assured that "this process is legal."

Still, the cash shuffle rang alarm bells for Soderberg.


"I had contacted the Conservative party in Ottawa and was reassured that this was okay. As a bookkeeper, I know that sometimes you have to use creative accounting between small companies but I found this move was being a little too creative," Soderberg would later tell Elections Canada investigators.


* In the statement, Lamothe said that he has "reasonable grounds" to believe the party exceeded its election spending limit and that candidates "improperly" claimed expenses.

"I have noted a consistent pattern created by the Conservative Party of Canada or the Conservative Fund Canada to deposit funds into the accounts of various campaigns, only to have the same or similar amounts transferred, always under the control of the Conservative Party or the Conservative Fund Canada, back to the Conservative Fund Canada, the chief agent of the Conservative Party of Canada," he stated.


* The warrant says that the elections commissioner believes that the Conservative Party of Canada and its official agent, the Conservative Fund of Canada, violated the Canada Elections Act. The party and the fund are separately accused of exceeding the maximum amount allowed for elections expenses. The Conservative Fund is also accused of filing financial returns "that it knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a materially false or misleading statement."

And much more to come today. Stay tuned, this storm is still gaining strength.

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11 comments:

wilson said...

''Most media outlets, undoubtedly miffed from the CPC “select media” list, will be on the story, and all its salacious details, with a vengeance.''

Better to get it all out at once, than for the media to drag it out over a week, dribbling the info.

So if the stupid secret meeting spurs on the media to really go at it, maybe that's the best approach. Get a media pile on, rather than the torture of drip drip drip.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Fair enough wilson, but I'd argue that's not at all what the Conservatives did here.

The warrant was due to be released Monday, in one fell swoop, generating one pile-on of media coverage. In an attempt to pre-empt that and spin it positively, the CPC released a portion of the information a day early.

Either way, that was guaranteeing at least two, instead of one, days of media coverage. Day one, CPC media spin gone wrong. Day two, salacious warrant details.

Without the CPC secret meetings would the media have covered the warrant release more slowly? Maybe, but I don't think so. It was a big story, guaranteed to get big coverage anyways. Now the coverage will be even bigger, thanks in part to the increased focus caused by the events of Sunday.

If the strategy was to dampen-down the story, I'd argue the opposite has occurred.

Steve V said...

The secret meetings plant the seed that there is something to hide. With that suspicion as backdrop, the actual thrust of the allegations look worse.

I thought these guys played chess, while we played checkers?

wilson said...

Just depends what's in the warrant BCer.
Roger Smith at CTV just said that there wasn't much there. Maybe the CPC gave the 'select' media the most damaging info at the stupid secret meeting.
If those 2 emails are the worst EC has, I can see why they wanted to dig for more, because they know they don't have enough 'evidence' to lay charges.

I just don't think the CPC would 'knowingly' break the rules, while publishing a how-to memo, and drawing the attention of over spending by filing for rebates (not received).
But, what ever happens now, the damage, if any, is done.
And I suppose Libs can always point to this as an accomplishment.

wilson said...

'The secret meetings plant the seed that there is something to hide.'

Steve, the meeting was with the media, hiding? no.
Spinning, yes.

There are so many pictures of Cons using the back exit, and repeats of Libs/media saying oooooh, 'what are they hiding',
what impact will another pic of the back end of a Cons and another ooooh have?

Gayle said...

"If those 2 emails are the worst EC has, I can see why they wanted to dig for more, because they know they don't have enough 'evidence' to lay charges."

That is the point of getting the warrant Wilson. The emails provide reasonable grounds to believe there is evidence at CPC headquarters.

Whether that evidence exists is another matter.

Jeff - I am very much starting to believe the lawsuit was initiated as a means to spin the inevitable investigation. As soon as the refunds were denied because of allegations of overspending, the CPC must have known an investigation would ensue.

I am also starting to believe the reason the cons wanted an election so badly last year was because they knew at some point this was going to hit the fan, and they wanted the election to happen first.

Steve V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve V said...

"The damage, if any"

Oh, you're a delusional HOOT!! For the record, I did laugh out loud.

Let's remember, it was wilson that argued Flaherty did no damage in Ontario :)

Bailey said...

So I guess Retail Media won't be using the Conservative Party as a client referral.

Demosthenes said...

Jeff - I am very much starting to believe the lawsuit was initiated as a means to spin the inevitable investigation. As soon as the refunds were denied because of allegations of overspending, the CPC must have known an investigation would ensue.Oh, absolutely. It's a play right out of the Republican playbook... you take something that should be a slam-dunk and turn it into "he said-she said".

Normally it's an effective little move, but the American system doesn't have anything like Elections Canada, so it's a poor choice here. But Harper's never done anything that a Republican hasn't done first, so here they are.

And yes, the aching desire for an election was probably due to all the scandals hitting the fan. I'm guessing Harper thought that a second election would have already taken place by now, and he would have secured that majority. If he gets a majority, this all goes away. But he doesn't have one, so now you get to enjoy the spectacle of Harper looking like a big ol' cheater.

Steve V said...

"But Harper's never done anything that a Republican hasn't done first, so here they are."

And, that explains the front anti-Kyoto group in Calgary, a third party that could advertise without the Cons being on the hook. That was invented by the Republicans.