Todd Stone campaign admits it knew about problem memberships by mid-January
BC Liberal leadership candidate Todd Stone’s campaign admits it knew about problems with nearly 1,350 eventually-rejected party memberships two weeks longer than it had initially acknowledged — and had fought for them to be accepted.
In a statement issued Saturday “to correct certain public statements attributed to our campaign in the last 24 hours,” a spokesperson wrote that the campaign was actually contacted by party headquarters regarding “concerns” with the memberships on Jan. 12.
On Friday, campaign spokesperson Peter Fassbender told media that the party reached out to them about the memberships on Jan. 26, two weeks later.
Fassbender added at the time that Stone had immediately requested a full investigation to determine what happened, and that he and the party both agreed that members with incomplete applications should not be permitted to vote.
At issue were 1,349 memberships associated with email addresses created by an employee of Aggregate IQ, a contractor hired by the Stone campaign, because they had been left blank on the new members’ applications, according to the campaign.
The BC Liberal party eventually rejected those memberships as “incomplete,” under new rules drafted to address problems with bulk member signups.
However, in the statement issued Saturday, the Stone campaign said that after the Jan 12. warning it accepted responsibility for those email addresses, yet continued to push for the memberships to be accepted.
It said that later, on Jan. 26, the party advised it of more concerns regarding the email accounts; at a subsequent hearing on Jan. 28, the campaign said it withdrew its request for the memberships to be approved.
LISTEN: Membership allegations surrounding Todd Stone’s campaign
On Friday, BC Liberal Party chief returning officer Geoff Plant issued a statement saying that the party’s chief priority ahead of the vote was ensuring its integrity.
To that end, Plant said the party had introduced rigorous new authentication procedures, which included making thousands of audit phone calls to members to verify their information.
“Recent media reports are a reminder that the process has worked. Where membership applications did not meet the party’s strict criteria, they were not accepted,” Plant wrote.
The problematic memberships came to light after four other leadership hopefuls wrote a letter to party executives demanding that allegations about rejected Stone campaign memberships be made public.
Stone’s campaign responded by alleging the other candidates “feel they need to gang up” against him because his message was resonating.
The BC Liberal party had initially said that “all” campaigns had issues with membership sign-ups. It remains unclear how many memberships signed up by the other candidates campaigns were rejected.
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