Through the heart of the British Columbia election campaign, the BC Liberal Party has continued to return prohibited political contributions worth thousands of dollars.
The amendments go back to 2005, but the bulk of the illegal donations the party returned were made in the last two years.
The BC Liberals also in the last two weeks changed the contributor information filed with Elections BC for 59 donations worth a total of $82,690, but kept the money. Added to the amount previously reported, the party has kept a total of $109,715 in donations where they have had to change the contributor.
Under the province’s Election Act, political parties and individuals have 30 days to file a supplementary financial report when information has changed or “the original report did not completely or accurately disclose the required information.”
A spokesperson for the BC Liberals did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Two weeks ago a party spokesperson said that the internal review of contributions is ongoing. “We continue to identify prohibited or incorrectly attributed donations, and refund them as required,” they said.
The NDP returned two donations in the last two weeks worth $790, according to Elections BC. That brings the NDP’s total to $11,290 returned.
With the oversight of special prosecutor David Butcher, the RCMP is investigating party fundraising following reports in the Globe and Mail that lobbyists have been making political donations to the BC Liberals under their own names and then being reimbursed by clients, thus obscuring the real source of the contributions.
The BC Liberals’ amended report for 2016, for example, shows contributions were returned to Woodfibre LNG’s Byng Giraud and Marian Ngo, and to lobbyists Mark Jiles, Adam Johnson, L. Patrick Hurshowy and Carling Dick.
Dermod Travis, the executive director of Integrity BC, has said the parties should be required to not only return the illegal donations but disclose who they were really from.
“Very clearly in some of these cases it was a deliberate attempt to mask the identity of the donor and the public has the right to know who’s behind the mask,” he told The Tyee in April.
Some of the lobbyists work for multiple companies and so far there’s no way to tell whose money they were donating, he said.