Elections Canada investigating allegations contributors to Del Mastro's re-election campaign reimbursed
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro. (ANDRE FORGET /QMI AGENCY)
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Elections Canada is now investigating allegations donors who contributed about $20,000 to MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 re-election campaign were reimbursed by a company owned by the MP’s cousin.
About 20 people who either worked for Deltro Electric in Mississauga, Ont., or are relatives of someone who worked for the company at the time, each donated $1,000 to Del Mastro’s campaign.
It is alleged the company gave them $1,050 for making the donations.
The allegations haven’t been proven in court and the company’s owner, David Del Mastro, told the Ottawa Citizen they are untrue and likely originate with a disgruntled former staff member.
Allan Kaufman, who represents one of the contributors, said Elections Canada investigator Ronald Lamothe began contacting the contributors late last week.
“They seem to be going after the little people rather than the organizers of the scheme,” he said on Tuesday. “The organizer, as the employer, can put pressure on the people he employs to participate in the scheme … They derive no benefit from it. It was to the benefit of their employer.
“My clients have no relations with the member of Parliament in Peterborough. They don’t even know who he is.”
Kaufman said his client as well as another six or seven of the contributors are willing to provide testimony and documents to Elections Canada in return for immunity from prosecution for possible Canada Elections Act violations.
Until they get immunity, they won’t co-operate with Elections Canada’s investigation, Kaufman said.
Last week, Kaufman took his message to the media after Elections Canada brushed off his client’s offer to provide the agency with testimony and evidence in exchange for immunity from prosecution. At that time, Kaufman said that it didn’t seem like Elections Canada was interested in investigating the contribution reimbursement scheme.
Del Mastro, who is the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Lamothe is Elections Canada’s lead investigator on the robocalls scandal after the agency received complaints that the Conservatives used a call centre that made harassing and misleading phone calls to voters before the election in May. He also led the probe of the Conservative Party’s illegal spending in the 2006 election that involved the central party shifting advertising expenses to certain riding associations to skirt spending limits.
Elections Canada’s policy is to never confirm or deny whether complaints have been received or whether an investigation is underway.
In a separate investigation, Elections Canada is looking into allegations Del Mastro exceeded the $92,567 campaign spending limit in 2008 by about $17,850.
In court documents, Elections Canada investigator Thomas Ritchie alleges Del Mastro knowingly exceeded the campaign spending limit, that he tried to cover up the violation by paying for $21,000 worth of voter contact calls from his personal bank account and that his campaign created a false document to hide the expense.
The allegations haven’t been proven in court and Del Mastro has consistently denied any wrongdoing.