Tory Defender is in Hot Water
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro was the main defender of the Conservative party when allegations of illegal phone calls first occurred. At the time, he called the entire event an “unsubstantiated smear” and even charged that the Liberal party was behind it. It turns out that the Conservatives’ own defender has a record to hide and it isn’t a pretty one.
It started with an investigation into overspending in the 2008 Del Mastro campaign and it has spread to confused voters in 2011 who received automated calls from “Jeff.” To make matters worse, a series of $1,000 donations to Del Mastro’s campaign were linked to his cousin’s power company, Deltro Electric Ltd. It appears that Del Mastro is in hot waters.
It started with overspending in the Del Mastro camp that led to forged documents to try to cover it up.
A Cousin’s Helping Hand
Three donors who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Deltro reimbursed and gave a $50 bonus to anyone who donated $1,000 to Del Mastro’s campaign.
“It was put, ‘We need to find some people to make $1,000 donations,’” said one former Deltro employee.
It is illegal under the Canada Elections Act to exceed the individual donation limit by hiding donations and/or having others help to hide the actual source of the donation.
The former employee signed a declaration before the Commissioner of Oaths and said that David Del Mastro approached and asked him to make a large donation to his cousin’s campaign.
The employee was asked to donate $12,000 and was reimbursed and given a “$50 bonus,” according to the declaration. The donors could also claim that donation as a deduction on their tax returns.
Employees were asked to get family and friends on board. There is currently no evidence that Dean Del Mastro knew that this was happening.
“I believe that all of us were reimbursed in full by Deltro for the sum of $1,000 each, plus the $50 bonus each,” the declaration says.
“I also believe that none of us had any connection to the MP other than that his cousin, my employer, had asked me to obtain these various donations to MP’s election campaign.”
The former employee recognized 12 former Deltro employees in the Elections Canada’s list of donors to the Del Mastro campaign.
David Del Mastro said that allegations that he paid people to donate were false, but said that he helped his cousin’s campaign.
“I fundraised for him. I asked friends and family and everybody I knew if they would like to donate to his campaign,” he said.
“I went around to everybody and said, ‘Hey, can you all contribute to my cousin’s campaign? I would really appreciate it.’”
Records from Elections Canada show that the Conservative riding association in Peterborough received 12 $1,000 donations on September 19, 2008 from people with links to Deltro Electric Ltd.
On September 26, another 7 $1,000 donations came from friends of Deltro employees and another friend contributed $1,000 on September 25.
Most of these donors were addressed in Brampton or Toronto, nowhere near Dean Del Mastro’s central Ontario riding of Peterborough.
Has anyone heard of a Jeff?
Fast forward to Election 2011 and we find even more hot water for Del Mastro’s campaign.
On May 2, he authorized 2 robocalls that left some of his constituents confused. They came from a guy named “Jeff.”
The message urged people to go vote and allegedly came from “Jeff.”
It turns out that Jeff is the name of Dean’s Liberal opponent – the party that Del Mastro charged was responsible for the robocalls. Jeff Leal told the Peterborough Examiner that he had heard complaints from constituents that said the caller was “an imposter” pretending to be him.
The same paper shows that Del Mastro admitted his responsibility to these calls, except, he said that Jeff was in fact Jeff Westlake, his campaign manager.
Two Jeffs are now at play but no one knew exactly which Jeff was the one who signed off the message and considering the opponent was named Jeff and would be more reputable than Del Mastro’s campaign manager, there is cause for confusion.
Del Mastro had Campaign Research, used by 39 other Conservative campaigns, to send out the robocalls that were a message from “Jeff.”
Nick Koivalis, principal partner to Campaign Research, defended the robocalls.
“He did identify the campaign office phone number on the call display,” he said. “And Jeff, his campaign manager, introduced himself at the front of the script. I think they could have done a better job on identification, but it’s pretty clear.”
However, he said that the calls in Guelph couldn’t easily be identifiable.
“The person says they’re somebody they’re not,” he said. “They don’t give a phone number to call back. They’re two different things.”
So we have suspicious activity coming from the Del Mastro campaign. We have a 2008 election mired with suspicious donations from outside the riding and allegedly linked to Deltro Electric Ltd. and in 2011, a message from Jeff was sent to constituents leaving them confused.
The opposition had the chance to ask Del Mastro questions in the Ethics committee but the chair, an NDP MP, decided to cancel the meeting and block any such questioning of Del Mastro. So in a sense, the NDP are trying to cover up for Del Mastro.
To use some of Del Mastro’s words, are these allegations nothing more than unsubstantiated smears? Do you agree with the NDP’s decision to let his questioning wait until the fall – if they allow it to happen at all? Don’t forget, it was the Liberals that wanted him questioned and it was the NDP that attacked them over it.