Premier Alison Redford has ordered former cabinet minister Gary Mar, now the Government of Alberta’s representative in Asia, to take an unpaid leave of absence during an ethics investigation of a recent fundraiser held in Edmonton. Mr. Mar, who placed second in the 2011 PC leadership, hosted a fundraiser to help pay off his campaign debt, which exceeds $226,000.
CBC is reporting that one version of an invitation for the fundraiser mentioned Mr. Mar’s position in Asia and implied that ticket-holders would learn how to do business in Hong Kong.
PC Party releases audited leadership campaign financials
Financial statements from five of the six Progressive Conservative leadership campaigns who participated in the 2011 contest have been published on that party’s website. Former MLA Rick Orman, who now leads a government northern economic strategy group, is the only candidate who’s campaign had not submitted his records at the time the PC Party posted them online yesterday.
Much of the financial contributions information in these audited documents is already known, as the candidates released some of their donation records during the course of the leadership campaign. It is sometimes interesting to see which businesses and lobby groups contribute to all campaigns, and the broad number of groups that participate in the governing party’s leadership campaigns.
Many of Alberta’s well-known corporations, like Telus and TransAlta, donated large sums of money to each candidate. Demonstrating just how wide the big blue tent is in Alberta, the Merit Contractors Association, an association of anti-union construction industry employers, is listed as having donated more than $71,000 to various leadership candidates, while Local 488 of the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters donated $5,000 each to the campaigns of the top three placing candidates.
These audited documents also gives Albertans a closer look at the financial outcomes and expenses of the campaigns.
The campaign of second place Mr. Mar reported $2,687,155 in expenditures and a $262,099 deficit when the campaign period ended. This is a monumental amount of money and may be the first time that an unsuccessful Canadian provincial party leadership candidate has spent this much. Having watched Mr. Mar’s campaign, which included all the bells and whistles (from an Obama-style campaign bus to a mock cooking show), I am not shocked to discover that the expenses piled up. As noted at the beginning of this post, Mr. Mar is still trying to pay off his campaign debt.
Doug Griffiths‘ campaign spent $164,400 and retained a surplus of $10,068. The financial report notes that surplus funds will be used to create a post-secondary bursary for residents in Mr. Griffiths’ Battle River-Wainwright constituency.
Ted Morton‘s campaign reported $977,238 in expenses and $115,732 revenue in excess of expenditures. The surplus funds will be donated to the Glenbow Ranch Foundation and the University of Calgary Political Science department.
The campaign of now-Deputy Premier Doug Horner recorded $1,231,383 in expenses and recorded an $8,059 surplus. His financial disclosure form does not make note of where the surplus funds were allocated.
Premier Redford’s campaign spent $1,290,575 and was left with a $20,846 surplus when the campaign ended. The statement does not indicate what was done with the surplus funds.
Audited statements from three of the campaigns provided a breakdown in expenditures (Redford, Mar, and Morton). Mr. Morton and Premier Redford’s documents breakdown expenditures into a number of identifiable categories, while the majority of Mr. Mar’s expenses are lumped into the vague and all-encompassing “advertising and other campaign expenses” category.