Alberta Politics
Jeff Callaway and Jason Kenney, not so long ago (Photo: United Conservative Party).

$3,500 fine levied in Callaway Kamikaze Campaign Case, this time for illegal pass-through donation

Posted on March 01, 2019, 2:09 am
4 mins

Another fine has been levied in the Callaway Kamikaze Campaign Case, this time for an illegal pass-through donation.

Karen Brown was handed the $3,500 administrative penalty yesterday by the Office of Alberta’s Election Commissioner. She has been identified as a former United Conservative Party financial officer.

Happy Mann, former UCP nomination candidate in Calgary-Falconridge, where Karen Brown worked as a UCP financial officer (Photo: Twitter).

In a characteristically terse notification, the Office of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson said only that Ms. Brown contributed $3,500 to Jeff Callaway’s campaign to lead the UCP in 2017 “with funds given or furnished by another person.”

Under Alberta’s Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, a person may only donate their own money to a party leadership campaign. Under the same law, the Election Commissioner is severely restricted in what can be said when reporting penalties.

Ms. Brown had little to say beyond that she had no comment when contacted by the Toronto Star’s Alberta news staff, but the newspaper identified her as the former chief financial officer of the Calgary-Falconridge UCP Board.

She is known in Conservative circles to have been associated with the campaign of Hardyal “Happy” Mann, a candidate for the UCP nomination in that riding until he was rejected by the party after allegations he was involved in an incident in which a local reporter was assaulted.

Mr. Mann’s name, in turn, also comes up in other recent stories about former Mr. Callaway’s alleged “Kamikaze Mission” to sink former Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean and ensure Jason Kenney became the leader of the UCP, as he did.

In December, the Star’s Calgary edition reported that Mr. Mann claimed to have met Mr. Kenney at a secret get-together at Mr. Callaway’s home in the summer of 2017 at which the Kamikaze campaign was discussed. In the story, Mr. Mann described himself as a “middle man” in that operation.

And when Press Progress crunched some of the donor information filed by the Callaway campaign with Elections Alberta and reported that “66 per cent of the $86,000 Callaway’s campaign raised from big donors ($250 or more) can be traced to members of just nine families,” the publication said three members of Mr. Mann’s family were involved.

Alberta Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson (Photo: Office of the Election Commissioner).

On Tuesday, the Office of the Election Commissioner announced that a former co-manager of Mr. Callaway’s campaign had been slapped with a whopping $15,000 in fines for “obstruction of an investigation.”

After the hefty penalty was announced, Cameron Davies had his lawyer tell media he “specifically denies the allegations brought against him and will vigorously defend this matter going forward.”

The Office of the Election Commissioner is known to have been investigating the allegations about Mr. Callaway’s campaign since last year, and has hired two former police officers specializing in white-collar crime to conduct its inquiries.

Immediately after the penalties were announced, Mr. Davies was fired by the UCP, for which he had been working since mid-November drafting policy briefing notes.

The investigation continues.

CORRECTION & APOLOGY: Cameron Wilson is political director of the Wilberforce Project. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this post. In addition, a photograph of Mr. Wilson was misidentified as being of Cameron Davies. regrets the error and the author apologizes to both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Davies for this error. Thanks as always to readers for spotting this error.

3 Comments to: $3,500 fine levied in Callaway Kamikaze Campaign Case, this time for illegal pass-through donation

  1. J.E. Molnar

    March 1st, 2019

    Pardon my schadenfreude, but the barrage of scandal and resultant negative publicity this week for the UCP — and ultimately Jason Kenney as leader of the party — has been gobsmackingly satisfying.

    Let’s just hope the clock doesn’t run out on postponing the dropping of the election writ before all the messy UCP investigations have been adjudicated. Albertans deserve to know the outcome of all the UCP investigations before they vote.

    P.S. Postmedia completely ignored the recent ‘Callaway Kamikaze Campaign Case’ in online editions of the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun this week — no surprise there.

    • Hana Razga

      March 1st, 2019

      I agree with your “schadenfreude” comment and I just hope that Rachel Notley can hold off calling the election as long as she can. UCP, keep the shit coming.

  2. Dave

    March 3rd, 2019

    Another day, another fine against UCP members by Elections Alberta. All is not well in UCP lala land and there must be some concern about the steady drip drip of scandal, even before the election. From the description here and elsewhere, it sounds like there was a coordinated scheme by Kenney and his supporters to funnel money to the Callaway kamikaze campaign. Obviously, Kenney was awash in money so he probably didn’t mind if a some of it went to Kamikaze Callaway, particularly if the agreement was that Callaway would drop out before the vote, but of course after he did as much damage as possible to Jean’s campaign.

    Like any such coordinated effort, the more people that are involved, the more likely it is to unravel. Perhaps a few people involved did not fully appreciate the highly secretive and sensitive nature of what they were involved in or did not care as much and talked to others or were careless in the implementation. Good help is hard to find and someone will rat things out, possibly out of fear or because they are disgruntled.

    With all the family members involved, this reminds me a bit of the Katz PC donation scheme in a previous election which received extensive media coverage and surely helped further tarnish the PC image. Perhaps the image of corruption was one factor that ultimately lead to their defeat in the next election after that. I suppose the family involved here is not so high profile, but at least the PC’s managed to keep the Katz scheme under wraps until after the election and it was borne of desperation. At that point the PC’s were scrambling for money and there was a genuine concern they would lose that election. I also think it could be more serious for the UCP this time, as people already had fairly clear ideas about the PC’s, as they had been around for years. The UCP is more susceptible to a tarnished reputation as it is a new party without a previous record. If the voters start to conclude it is just a reincarnation of a discredited and corrupt previous government, judgement could be unexpectedly swift and brutal.

    With the many very suspicious amounts and closely connected group involved in the donations to the Callaway campaign, it would not be surprising if Elections Alberta is continuing to look into other donors. This is could just be the start of an avalanche of charges and things starting to unravel.


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