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Officials reviewed Bonney bribe email: Coleman

The Liberals finally answered some questions about an email from former multiculturalism communications director Brian Bonney that ponders bribing a government caucus liaison to prevent actions that could damage Premier Christy Clark or the BC Liberal Party.

According to deputy premier Rich Coleman, the email was considered by officials who reviewed the multicultural outreach strategy scandal. Coleman was responding to questions from NDP leader Adrian Dix during yesterday's budget estimates debate for the Office of the Premier.

"The review team did read the document," Coleman said, although he couldn't say when or who saw it first.

The September 2012 email said that its subject has the potential to damage the premier or the Liberals, and said "if need be" offer the subject "X amount of dollars" to do non public work leading up to the election, such as developing a database of potential supporters.

[Click below to read email]

The email was mixed among lengthy and heavily redacted email exchanges between Bonney and Sepideh Sarrafpour, a government caucus liaison from October 2011 to October 2012.

Although it's not apparent from reading the email to whom Bonney is referring, after news of the email broke, former government caucus liason Sepideh Sarrafpour admitted that it was her.

In Question Period yesterday, Dix asked why Sarrafpour was not interviewed.

"The individual left in September 2012. We did interview the persons that were responsible for their supervision and what their roles were," Coleman said. "Since no database was created, there was no need to interview the individual. Because there was, frankly, no job or contract found within government relative to the individual, there was no activity subsequent to that particular email."

Coleman also said Clark did not get an advance copy of the report, but cabinet was briefed by Dyble on March 14, the day it was released. "There were no discussions about anything other than: this is the information; this is the report. Then it was immediately taken out and released to the public."

Earlier, during Question Period, Dix introduced an Aug. 16, 2012 email by then-multiculturalism minister John Yap to Bonney's government email address about "Contact Lists." The email was leaked to the NDP.

"Have you seen Sepideh's list? I haven't heard nor received any copy. I recall on Monday she promised me the lists would be submitted by Tuesday, Wednesday -- yesterday -- at the latest," Yap wrote. "She has an obligation to you and me and our Primrose (Carson) to meet this contact list requirement as part of our multi-election campaign strategy. She has been very late on her reports. Please follow-up as needed and drop me a line to advise."

Dix asked why the email was not part of the post-election release of records gathered by John Dyble, Clark's deputy minister, for the in-house review of the so-called "Quick Wins" scandal. Coleman did not have a direct response during the committee hearing.

"All matters were reviewed by the Dyble report," he said. "If the Opposition would take the time to read the report, they would know that they concluded no database was ever created."

Meanwhile, Coleman said the Legal Services Branch continues to secure records in the possession of those involved in the scandal, but the review of policies and standards of conduct is substantially complete and disciplinary action is complete.

"In most cases the individuals who were identified as having acted inappropriately had already resigned prior to the outcome of the investigation," Coleman said, referring to Bonney and ex-deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad. "It would inappropriate to comment further on personnel issues, and the member knows we don't do that in government."

Both Bonney and Haakstad returned to the Liberal fold during the election as party strategists.

Several NDP members complained to speaker Linda Reid that Citizens' Services Minister Andrew Wilkinson violated rules in Question Period when he named several constituencies and claimed "the NDP -- all 27 members opposite -- siphoned off $200 a month from constituency funds paid for by the taxpayer, handed them over to the ethnic outreach slush fund over the years."

NDP critic Shane Simpson responded: "The legislative comptroller administered that money. I wonder if they administered the money for the Quick Wins scandal."

Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee.

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