Elections Alberta released the financial disclosures showing the results of political party fundraising in the third quarter of 2018.
Here are my quick thoughts on the latest fundraising numbers:
The United Conservative Party raised more than $1 million for the second quarter in a row, demonstrating the dominant conservative party’s ability to raise significantly larger amounts than any of the other parties. There is no doubt that the UCP is an impressive fundraising machine and will not be hurting for money when the next election is called.
The New Democratic Party raised $676,446.91 in this quarter, which is $237,000 more than the party raised in the same quarter in 2017 and a drop from the $856,960 raised in the last quarter. The NDP continues to lag behind the UCP in terms of total fundraising, but the governing party is around $500,000 ahead in total annual fundraising from where it was during last year’s third quarter.
The Alberta Party saw its fundraising totals drop by almost $100,000 compared to last quarter, leaving the third-place party with $28,915 in fundraising reported in the third quarter.
The remnant of the Progressive Conservative Party, which is now legally controlled by the UCP board of directors, disclosed a $2,500 donation from Jack Seguin of Acheson in the third quarter. It is not clear whether this donation was a mistake on the part of the UCP or whether this is an interest payment on the $192,237 remaining debt that was listed in the party’s annual disclosure filed at the end of 2017.
The total number of donations collected by Alberta’s political parties in 2017 and 2018 is somewhat complicated by the fact that donations collected during by-election periods from November 16, 2017 to February 14, 2018, and from June 14 to July 12, 2018 are counted separately from the regular quarterly reports.
During the by-election period that ended on February 14, 2018, the NDP collected $886,591.29 , the UCP collected $840,794.02, and the Liberal Party collected $61,662.19. The financial reports from the by-election period in June and July 2018 has not yet been released but will include funds raised by the parties during that period that might not be included in the third quarter financial disclosure released last week.
Pro-UCP PAC flush with car dealership cash
Not limited by donations laws banning corporate donations that apply to political parties, two pro-UCP Third Party Political Advertisers, known colloquially as Political Action Committees, are flush with cash.
The AAFund raised $261,500.00 in the third quarter of 2018 and a total of $915,454.77 in the first three quarters of 2018. Shaping Alberta’s Future raised $275,000 in the third quarter of 2018, of which at least $170,000 came from car dealerships across the province.
Following a meeting with UCP leader Jason Kenney on September 6, 2018, Motor Dealer Association of Alberta chairman Andrew Robinson wrote in a letter to association members that the MDA board voted to “contribute $100,000.00 to the Shaping Alberta’s Future political action company to assist in the UCP 3rd party advertising campaign.”
In his letter, Robinson noted Kenney would roll back personal and corporate taxes, freeze minimum wage and explore lower wages for young workers, and cancel all reforms the NDP have made the the Labour Code, Occupational Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation Board.
Robinson wrote that the MDA board voted to solicit its dealer members to contribute to Shaping Alberta’s Future. The letter noted that the “MDA’s goal donation is $1,000,000.00” and that “each MDA dealership write a cheque in the amount of $5,000.00.”
The President of the MDA is Denis Ducharme, who served as the PC MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake from 1997 to 2008.
Speaking to Postmedia columnist Keith Gerein, Shaping Alberta’s Future executive director David Wasyluk denied that the UCP and the pro-UCP PAC have been collaborating. Wasyluk was until recently the spokesperson for the right-wing BC Liberal Party and a research officer for the BC Liberal Party caucus before that party was removed from government in 2017.
Elections Alberta disclosures also show that Edmonton philanthropist Stanley Milner is of the largest individual donors of the AAFund and Shaping Alberta’s Future, having donated around $88,000 to the two pro-UCP political action committees.
The primary contacts for each group are also provided by Elections Alberta. The primary contact for the AAFund is Edmonton lawyer and former Wildrose Party executive director Jonathan Wescott, who is the Principal of the Alberta Counsel lobby firm. The primary contract for Shaping Alberta’s Future is Douglas Nelson, who was previously listed as the Chief Financial Officer for Jason Kenney’s now defunct Third Party Political Advertisers, the Alberta Victory Fund.