Friday, April 06, 2012

Why is Julian Fantino hiding his campaign donors?

Blogger The Sixth Estate has written a post drawing attention to the campaign finance filing of Vaughan Conservative MP Julian Fantino from last year's election, noting two campaign contributions of "Dinner" and "Donation" that are rather odd names you don't hear every day. And if they are names, at $117,600 and $65,585 respectively they're well over the individual contribution limit of $1100 for donations to a political campaign.
Now, oddly enough, the Fantino campaign didn’t report a postal code either for Mr. Dinner, or for Mr. Donation. I wonder why that could be. As you can see, Mr. Donation is a very wealthy person. The legal limit is well short of $65,585, but that didn’t stop him! And who paid for the dinner? I certainly hope Elections Canada has more information than we do.
Intrigued, I went over to the Elections Canada web site to take a look for myself. And I was surprised to see that under "Candidates' Details - Statement of Contributions Received (Part 2a)" the only two donations listed were, indeed, Dinner and Donations.

To say this isn't how you are supposed to complete a filing is an understatement. Donations by corporations and unions are banned, and every donation by an individual over $20 must be identified by name and the amount of each contribution. Yet the Fantino campaign filing doesn't list the name of one single campaign contributor.

It would seem likely that the Fantino campaign held a major fundraising dinner that raised $117,600, and also raised another $65,585 through donations. Yet, for some reason, they listed the totals by categories instead of the names of individual contributors and the amount each donated, as required by law. It's such a ridiculous thing to do I'm inclined to think it was sheer incompetence rather than malice, as it's not the sort of thing you could expect to slip under the radar. One look at the filing and it's glaringly obvious. And if it is malicious, at best they could hope to delay the revelation of the names of their donors by a year.

The data posted in Fantino's filing is "as submitted" and hasn't been approved by Elections Canada. It's likely that someone from Elections Canada will be in contact with Fantino's official agent, looking for the missing information. Failure to comply would seem to, at a minimum, mean no expense rebate for the campaign (a loss of tens of thousands of dollars). Fines and possible de-registration of the riding association may also be possibilities; I'm not an expert on the intricacies of election law.

In the meantime, the question remains, just who donated to Fantino's campaign and why hasn't he revealed the list of donors, as required? It it just sheer incompetence or does he have something to hide?

It bears noting, though, that while an argument of sheer incompetence is reasonable with this incident in isolation, make questions have been swirling around the Fantino campaign of late:

* Ex-Tory riding execs question Fantino's election finances

Three former members of the Conservative riding association in Vaughan, Ont., are asking Elections Canada to investigate the campaign's finances. In sworn affidavits, Richard Lorello, Tracey Kent and Carrie Liddy allege possible irregularities in Julian Fantino's 2010 byelection and 2011 election campaigns.

Elections Canada urged to investigate Fantino

The three former riding association members allege that Fantino’s fundraising chair, Sam Ciccolini, said at a January 2011 meeting that there was a second bank account belonging to the campaign that contained more than $300,000. It is against election rules to have more than one campaign bank account.

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1 comment:

H7N9 Watch said...

Violations of EC reporting laws usually mean signing a compliance agreement in which you confess to what you've done, in exchange for not doing it again. This was the procedure, for instance, when Peter Van Loan exceeded his spending limit in 2008, and when Gary Goodyear's campaign took an illegal kickback from its campaign office landlord.

I wonder how many people attended the fundraising dinner.