The Conservative Party of Canada is investigating claims of voter fraud in the leadership race.
Kevin O’Leary, who’s currently running to be the leader of the party, alleges that “backroom organizers” are using their own money to buy memberships for others, which will allow them to inflate the numbers for their desired candidate.
“It has been brought to my campaign’s attention that there are backroom organizers who are committing wide-spread vote rigging and potentially breaking our electoral and financing laws to try to buy a Leadership victory,” O’Leary said in a statement.
The CPC confirmed they are looking into the allegations in an email to Global News.
“We’re aware of the allegations and we are looking into it through our verification process,” CPC communications director Cory Hann wrote.
“Any memberships obtained contrary to the rules will be struck from our membership list and ineligible to vote. Our leadership race is and will continue to be fair for all candidates.”
O’Leary is one of 14 candidates running for the leadership of the party.
Two sources not connected to O’Leary told The Canadian Press it appeared the campaign of his main rival in the race, Maxime Bernier, was the one under scrutiny.
A source inside Bernier’s campaign denied the allegations.
Brad Trost, another leadership candidate, called the allegations a publicity stunt, and asked for proof.
“If Mr. O’Leary has evidence to substantiate this hack he should make it public immediately,” Trost said in a emailed statement to Global News.
“If this is nothing but a publicity stunt, and Mr. O’Leary has no evidence then he should be sanctioned to the greatest extent possible by the party.”
Canadians must be a member of the Conservative party and pay for that membership out of their own pocket, to be able to vote in the leadership race. Memberships cost $15.
Party rules say they can only be purchased by cheque or credit card, a provision that was implemented in order to avoid campaigns being able to use their own funds to sign up thousands of members, as had been the practice in the past.
But O’Leary said people are using pre-paid credit cards to sign up “people who may not even be aware they are becoming members.”
Winning the leadership in the race isn’t based on the number of people who voted, but on who wins each riding.
Voting functions on a points-based system in the CPC leadership race. Each riding is worth 100 points, and points are allocated to candidates based on what percentage of the riding they win.
A candidate needs over 16,000 points to win the leadership.
*with files from the Canadian Press