UCP drops candidate, alleges he wasn’t ‘forthright’ about contribution to Callaway campaign
There is more fallout over ongoing questions about Jeff Callaway‘s 2017 bid to become leader of the United Conservative Party.
On Wednesday night, the UCP issued a news release saying it had removed Randy Kerr as its candidate in the riding of Calgary-Beddington.
“In the last 48 hours, new information has come to our attention indicating Mr. Kerr was not forthright in responding to the party’s inquiries regarding his financial contribution to the Jeff Callaway leadership campaign,” said Janice Harrington, the party’s executive director.
“To be clear, the party is not making any allegation against Mr. Kerr regarding the legitimacy of his contribution to the Callaway leadership, nor against Mr. Callaway or his campaign.
“This is not the party’s role to judge, and the party does not in any way oversee financial contributions to leadership campaigns. However, it is our conclusion that Mr. Kerr was not sufficiently forthcoming with the party’s earlier inquiries, and for that, he has been removed as a candidate.”
The UCP said it has forwarded the new information to Alberta’s election commissioner.
“The matter does not in any way involve the party, our leader, nor the leader’s former leadership campaign,” Harrington said. “As we have stated previously, neither the party, leader’s office, nor the leader’s former leadership campaign have been contacted by the election commissioner.”
Kerr posted the following statement on Facebook late Wednesday night:
“I was honored to be voted the UCP candidate for Calgary Beddington on August 14. Tonight I learned that I have been removed as the candidate. I am a life long conservative who has acted with integrity, a love of our province and a desire to ensure our future is one full of opportunity.
I do not believe tonight’s decision by the UCP changes any of that. I cannot say enough about all of the volunteers who have helped me on my campaign, we all worked so hard. I wish all the candidates the best in the upcoming election. I look forward to continuing to work for the betterment of our province.”
Global News has reached out to Kerr for comment and will update this story once he responds.
Financial disclosure forms on Elections Alberta’s website show that a $4,000 cash contribution to Callaway’s leadership campaign is attributed to a Randy Kerr.
The UCP said Josephine Pon will now become the party’s candidate in Calgary-Beddington. She was the runner-up in that constituency’s nomination race.
Kerr’s removal as a candidate is just the latest in a string of recent developments related to Callaway’s leadership campaign. Last week, the province’s election commissioner levied three fines against two different people in connection with that campaign.
WATCH BELOW: (From 2017) Jeff Callaway says money was not the issue in his decision to step out of UCP race
Karen Brown was handed a $3,500 fine on Thursday for contributing money to a registered UCP leadership contestant “with funds given or furnished by another person.” The fine was issued in accordance with Section 34(1) of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.
Two days before the fine was issued against Brown, a co-campaign manager for Callaway’s 2017 campaign — Cameron Davies — was handed two fines totalling $15,000 for what the Office of the Election Commissioner called “obstruction of an investigation.”
“Mr. Davies specifically denies the allegations brought against him and will vigorously defend this matter going forward,” said Dale Fedorchuk, Davies’ lawyer. “We haven’t had an opportunity to review anything that they have to counteract anything they have or rebut anything they have.”
“These actions and decisions we take are the result of an investigation,” Lorne Gibson, Alberta’s election commissioner, told Global News last week.
Callaway ended his bid to become UCP leader in October 2017 and endorsed Jason Kenney’s leadership bid, which ended up being successful.
Watch below: (From 2017) Jason Kenney suggests money was reason for Jeff Callaway’s decision to leave UCP race.
“We have heard allegations that Jeff Callaway ran a campaign that was essentially a ruse to allow him to criticize Brian Jean and enable Jason Kenney to avoid the negatives that might come with criticizing Brian Jean more directly,” Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said to Global News last week.
“At the time that those allegations first surfaced, some people said, ‘Well, this would be a ridiculous thing to do because it would cost too much money for Jeff Callaway and nobody has that kind of money to kick around.’
“Since then, we’ve heard allegations that money was given to Jeff Callaway’s campaign by those who were supporting him to do the criticism of Brian Jean on behalf of Jason Kenney,” Williams went on to say.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kenney told reporters he was prepared to take legal action against an Independent MLA who used to sit as a UCP member. Prab Gill has reached out to the RCMP over concerns he says he has with the UCP leadership vote.
“[Gill] has made what we consider to be defamatory allegations against our entire party and we’re just not going to allow that to happen with impunity,” Kenney said. “He’s free to say what he wants to of course, but he will also be held accountable if he defames the Official Opposition with these ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
Watch below: The fight between Independent MLA Prab Gill and the United Conservative Party may wind up in court. As Tom Vernon reports, the UCP is threatening to sue.
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