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Smith seeks clarification from Elections Alberta on contributions to PCs

EDMONTON, AB (October 29, 2012): Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith is calling into question statements made by the office of Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer over controversial contributions to the Progressive Conservatives during the April election.

In a letter to Chief Electoral Officer Brian Fjeldheim, Smith questions why Elections Alberta - the office that will conduct an investigation into Daryl Katz’s contributions to the governing PCs  - had made public statements that appear to have rendered a verdict on the contributions before the investigation starts. (An Elections Alberta spokesman said from the filings the office has received, the contributions are “perfectly in compliance with the legislation.”)  “Both myself and another provincial political leader have requested an investigation and the very same spokesman has indicated one will take place,” Smith said. “Given the impending investigation, I believe premature public statements from your office – which will conduct the investigation – as to the legality of the contribution will compromise the integrity of the investigation.” 

The letter also outlines how Katz’s contributions – reported to be between $300,000 and $430,000 (allegedly in a single cheque) – would violate the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, if found to be true.  Section 34 of the Act clearly states that nobody can contribute money not belonging to them or money given to them by somebody else for the purpose of a political contribution. It also prohibits political parties from accepting contributions of this nature.  “In order for Mr. Katz-related contributions to be legal, it must be proven that there are several individual cheques in amounts equal to or less than $30,000 and that each of those contributions indeed belonged to the person or entity in whose name they were made. This means that each contribution must be sourced to that contributor’s individually owned bank account,” Smith writes.  “Additionally, if there was only a single cheque for between $300,000 and $430,000 provided by Mr. Katz, then the contribution is illegal regardless of whether or not he indicated that portions of that contribution were on behalf of others. To find any other way is to completely ignore Section 34 of the Act and, frankly, would render the entire Act utterly meaningless as it applies to contribution limits. Any individual could contribute millions of dollars and simply ask that tax receipts be split up and sent to 100 of his friends and acquaintances. Clearly, this is expressly against the spirit and intent of Section 34.”