Leaked emails have revealed that concerns over the 2017 UCP leadership vote were raised with the party weeks before Jason Kenney clinched the top job.
The revelations come as the RCMP continue to investigate the race, which culminated with Kenney being declared leader of the UCP on Oct. 28, 2017.
In an email obtained by Global News, dated Aug. 26, 2017, Hamish Marshall, who served on Brian Jean’s leadership campaign, flagged concerns to the party’s lawyer and threatened to go public, even including a draft press release.
Marshall condemned the “complete absence of scrutineering opportunities in the qualifying and voting process.”
Read the email below:
Marshall’s email was among a trove of communications leaked to media, including Global News, that show communications between the Kenney campaign and that of former candidate Jeff Callaway, who allegedly ran as a kamikaze candidate to take out Brian Jean. Callaway withdrew his candidacy part-way through the campaign and threw his support behind Kenney.
RCMP are now investigating the leadership vote, which has been dogged by allegations of voter fraud and financial wrongdoing.
On Wednesday afternoon, Marshall, who is now working as federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager, sent an email statement to Global News in which it appeared he had changed his views on the 2017 leadership race.
“My only comment is Jason Kenney won the leadership fair and square,” the email reads.
Marshall did not respond to questions from Global News about why the statement was sent, whether he received a response from the UCP’s lawyer in relation to his 2017 concerns, or whether he felt his concerns about the race were addressed.
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said because the leaked emails were sent by Marshall, “the Kenney people can’t simply dismiss this as sour grapes from UCP members” due to his position within the federal party.
Bratt said the emails not only point to concerns being raised several months before the public caught wind of the allegations, but also sheds more light on what might have been happening within the race.
“It helps to give greater context to the accusations and to some of the evidence that’s already come out about the bulk purchase of emails, about…[people] voting where they didn’t actually vote, using out-of-country servers,” he said.
“When we talk about the UCP leadership race, there are things that we know about the degrees of collusion between the Callaway and the Kenney team, and then there’s two separate investigations that are going on: one is involving the funding of the Callaway camp and the other is of possible voter fraud by the Kenney team in the UCP election.”
Bratt said there isn’t enough evidence to say whether the allegations could render the 2017 leadership vote illegitimate.
The UCP has not yet responded to a request for comment.
— With files from Global News’ Heide Pearson
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