Thursday, August 30, 2007

"But ... but ... but ... the LIBERALS ..."


Fuck you, you crooks. No more buts.

P.S. Crickets.

Note: With respect to the Blogging Tory search immediately above, I'm interested in the perfect combination of search words or phrases that will be as generous to the BTs as possible, but still minimize the number of irrelevant hits. At the moment, I'm searching simply on the phrase "regional advertising" since that phrase seems to be the operative one in this scandal, but I'm open to better search criteria.

Fair and balanced, that's our motto. Yessir, fair and balanced.

OK, I'M A BIT CONFUSED: After reading the Globe article carefully, here's the part that confuses me:

Lise Vallières, who acted as the official agent for former MP Jean Landry in the Quebec riding of Richmond-Arthabaska, said yesterday she had just discovered that she was part of the initial case against Elections Canada. "Nobody ever asked anything of me," she said. In an interview, Mr. Landry complained that the Conservative Party placed $26,000 in his campaign account during the last election, and then used it to buy advertising that was not specifically related to his own campaign.

"It wasn't for me," Mr. Landry said of the ads.

Elections Canada reimburses 60 per cent of the election expenses of candidates who get at least 10 per cent of the votes in their riding.

Mr. Landry reached the 10-per-cent threshold, but he said he does not qualify for a reimbursement on the $26,000 because he has no proof the advertising was authorized by his official agent.

"Elections Canada does not have to reimburse a cent, because we don't have invoices," Mr. Landry said.

As I've understood it until now, the money that was "loaned" to candidates was meant to be in-and-out but, from what I read above, those local candidates were actually intending to claim the 60% Elections Canada reimbursement on it, is that right? But they can't because they have no actual receipts.

However, why are those local candidates complaining (if they are)? It wasn't meant to be their money in the first place, so one would think that, from that perspective, it all works out for them. (Certainly, trying to claim a reimbursement on that phony cash strikes me as obvious fraud, but it doesn't seem like those candidates can claim an actual loss, can they?)

On the other hand, I can see how that laundering scheme allowed the federal party to exceed the campaign limits. But I'm still not sure what the locals are complaining about. What's the actual basis for the lawsuit here?

If someone wants to write up a "Conservative Corruption for Dummies" piece related to this, I'll be happy to post it as a main piece.

9 comments:

Crabgrass said...

"Lise Vallières" turns up nothing (with and without the accent grave).

"Liberato Martelli"... nothing.

On the other hand, "Gay sex" turned up a great flood of matches. But I digress.

CC said...

That's amusing. Evil, but amusing.

Adam said...

The locals are probably complaining for the same reason you might complain if someone used your bank account to essentially launder money and intentionally break the law. It's immoral, illegal, and looks really bad for local candidates if it comes to light they allowed their party to use them like that. There are still some candidates actually concerned about things like ethics in all parties (although they tend not to rise into prominent positions, due to those pesky values).

It also tends to cause headaches in all sorts of ways when you have large currency transfers in and out of your bank accounts without being able to account for it. "Oh, that $26,000? I don't know, Ms. Auditor, just some money someone else was taking in and out of may account for some reason I'm not aware of" - not what you want to say to a civil-servant who doesn't like to be screwed with by anyone, let alone politicians.

CC said...

But, Adam, that still doesn't explain the basis for the lawsuit. Who's suing who for what? Are the locals suing Elections Canada for reimbursement based on that bogus expense? Given that they're openly admitting it wasn't their money, the thought of them suing for reimbursement is just too mind-numbing for words. That just screams "FRAUD" from the rooftops.

Southern Quebec said...

CC Guy:
What I can figure out the scam is:
CPof C “lends” money to local candidate for Party advertising.
Local candidate pays for advertising from his account.
Local candidate applies for refund from Elections Canada.
Local candidate “repays” loan to CPofC.
This seems to be a way of getting Elections Canada to pay for Party advertising. (Which I don’t believe is refundable.)
If the local candidates went along with this, they are as stupid as the boys at Head Office, because they are leaving a really good paper trail for Sheila Fraser. (Rule #1 – Never, ever, leave a paper trail.)
P.S. I think that it is CPOC suing Elections Canada for their refunds. It should be Elections Canada suing CPOC for fraud.

CC said...

OK, let's take this one step at a time. AIUI (as I understand it), both the federal party and local candidates have respective caps on what they can spend.

From what I read, the federal party had already maxed out and hit their campaign spending limit, right? Can we all agree on that? So, legally, they shouldn't have been able to spend any more on *national* advertising.

Many local CPoC candidates, however, still hadn't reached their limit, so the party decides to shovel money in their direction, let's say to top them right up to their spending limit. First question -- if those local candidates had spent all that money on *local* advertising, would that have been legal? In other words, did the federal party have the right to use their surplus to help candidates advertise *locally*?

If so, the next obvious question is, if those local candidates advertised purely locally and had all their receipts, would they have been entitled to full Elections Canada reimbursements, even using the "federal" money tossed at them by the party? I mean, if the party just flat out *gives* the locals cash, are the locals allowed to treat it as theirs if they use it strictly locally?

(Another question -- for that to be legal, must that money be considered a straight gift? Or can it technically be a loan that is expected to be repaid?)

The problems come in, as I see it, when that extra money given to the locals was used, not for local advertising, but for national advertising, correct? In doing that, the party exceeded its national spending limit, so that's already one infraction.

However, as long as the locals didn't try to get reimbursed for that extra cash, they were at least in the clear, sort of. But in trying to claim the Elections Canada reimbursement on that money as well, that was a *second* infraction -- basically fraud by the local candidates, as I see it.

Is this reasonably accurate so far? And for any of the locals to be suing Elections Canada to get reimbursed for that extra cash is just nervy as hell. That lawsuit really should be going the other way -- those local candidates who are trying that should all be charged with fraud.

Now, can anyone confirm or refute any of the above?

Adam C said...

My suspicion would be that the local candidates were led to believe (rightly or wrongly) that this was all above board. They've been counting on getting their $15000 or so for quite some time now, and it's not a small amount of money for them.

CC said...

You suspect that the local candidates were *promised* they could claim the reimbursement on the entire amount? Oh, dear.
In any event, I'd still really like to hear from someone who has a solid grip on this whole sordid mess.

Details, dammit! We need details!

Nullig said...

Harper's Hawala... what a scam.