EDMONTON, AB (May 1, 2013): The Wildrose Official Opposition is calling on the Alberta PC party to return $405,000 in election contributions delivered in one large sum by the Katz Group on behalf of several individuals and companies in the dying days of last spring’s provincial election, and the government should table legislation immediately to close the loophole that allowed these types of contributions to proceed.
Wildrose is also reiterating its call to ban all corporate and union donations to political parties after Elections Alberta wrapped up its investigation into the matter last week. Elections Alberta ruled that $25,000 of the original $430,000 delivered to the PC Party by the Katz Group, attributed to a Mr. Paul Marcaccio, was a contravention of Elections Law by Mr. Marcaccio. The PC party has returned that $25,000. The investigation also concluded that $430,000 was indeed received by the PC party in the form of a single bank draft from the Katz Group. The limit on individual contributions in an election year is $30,000. It appears that individuals and corporations, including Mr. Marcaccio, paid back the Katz Group for portions of that $430,000 in amounts under $30,000, thereby avoiding contravention of the law on contribution limits. “We certainly believe the manner in which these donations were made violated the spirit and intent of the law and therefore should be paid back entirely,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. “Even if Elections Alberta doesn’t see anything wrong with a single entity delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Party in this manner, Albertans certainly do. The PC party should return these funds immediately.” In the fall session last year, Wildrose tabled amendments to elections law that would have closed the loophole that allowed for this kind of practice to occur. The PCs voted those amendments down. The $430,000 bank draft was delivered to the PC party in the late stages of the April 2012 election, when it appeared as though the PC party was headed for defeat. Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said that the bank draft essentially functioned as a short-term bridging loan for the PC Party. Elections law stipulates that all loans must be done through financial institutions. “This interpretation of the law by Elections Alberta sets a very dangerous precedent and makes a mockery of contribution limits as well as the rules prohibiting individual companies or persons from making loans to political parties,” Anderson said. “If individuals, corporations or unions with deep pockets are allowed to do things like this, we might as well not have contribution limits or lending restrictions in place at all.”