As controversy swirls over potentially illegal political campaign donations, the BC Liberal Party’s campaign co-chair says any improperly made donations will be returned.
Last week, Elections BC turned an investigation into ‘indirect donations’ over to the RCMP; that matter involves reports that lobbyists were making donations to the party in their own names, then being reimbursed by corporations. That’s a contravention of B.C.’s Elections Act.
Deputy Premier Rich Coleman says the party is doing an internal investigation.
“The Party is reviewing the records, talking to people. If there is a donation we’ve received that’s incorrect we’ll send the money back.”
But Coleman remains adamant that if errors were made, they weren’t by his party.
“If somebody makes a donation they’re supposed to disclose that they are being paid back by somebody. It appears that may not have happened. [I] don’t want to prejudge that, but if that was the case it is not acceptable to us. We, we play by the rules and follow the law.”
Coleman says once they know who is involved and the amounts they will make the information public.
Last week BC NDP Leader John Horgan said his party was conducting a similar investigation, and had flagged “three or four” potentially improper donations. He to pledged to return the money if the donations were not above board.
Yesterday, Premier Christy Clark announced that if the BC Liberals win the election, the party will strike a new independent panel to look into campaign finance reform every eight years.
The government also tabled a bill requiring parties to disclose donations within five days of receiving them but stopped short of putting any kinds of caps on who can donate, or how much.
The opposition BC NDP and BC Green party have both condemned the measures as too weak, and are calling for a ban on corporate and union donations.
The BC Liberal Party has been under the microscope in recent months for its fundraising practices, which include pricey dinners that involve face to face time with the premier or other senior cabinet ministers. Critics have derided the practice as “cash for access.”
Back in January, Clark agreed to give up a controversial $50,000 salary “top up” she was being paid by the party for attending the events.
The RCMP investigation is not expected to be complete by the time voters go to the polls May 9.
With files from Liza Yuzda