June 1, 2019 10:48 am
Updated: June 1, 2019 10:54 am

Jeff Park appeals fines issued in relation to Callaway leadership campaign investigation

Park was fined a total of $10,500 for donating to Jeff Callaway's UCP leadership campaign "with funds given or furnished by another person."

Adam MacVicar / Global News
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Jeff Park is appealing in $10,500 in fines levied against him by Alberta’s election commissioner for donating money to Jeff Callaway’s 2017 UCP leadership campaign “with funds given or furnished by another person.”

The fines also cover a donation made by Park’s wife, Michelle, which is also believed to have been “given or furnished by another person.”

Park, formerly Callaway’s executive assistant during the campaign, claims there was bias in the election commissioner’s decision.

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Park is also claiming the election commissioner “incorrectly and unreasonably” found that the $7,000 he and his wife donated to the campaign was not their own money.

READ MORE: Cameron Davies fined again by Alberta Election Commissoner

A letter from Alberta election commissioner Lorne Gibson obtained by Global News, dated March 14, 2019, addressed to Calgary businessman Robyn Lore confirms the election commissioner is looking into an alleged $60,000 transfer from a Calgary-based business called Agropyron into the personal account of Callaway’s former campaign co-manager Cameron Davies on Sept. 11, 2017.

A corporate search lists Lore as a director of the company.

WATCH: (April 25) Fines levied against another former Callaway UCP leadership campaign staffer

Gibson writes that his office believes that on Sept. 11, 2017, “all or significant portions of that $60,000 was directed to the Jeff Callaway campaign in a manner that has been determined to be in contravention of the EFCDA (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act).”

It’s alleged the money was distributed to a number of individuals connected to the campaign with the intention they would make legitimate-looking donations.

$10,000 signing bonus

According to Park’s notice of appeal, a $10,000 wire transfer he received from Davies on Sept. 11, 2017, was actually a signing bonus for his work on the campaign.

Park said he negotiated a signing bonus with Callaway’s campaign manager Randy Kerr.

“He was willing to accept less, but wanted to start high,” the notice of appeal read. “To Mr Park’s surprise, Mr Kerr agreed to Mr Park’s proposed amount without making any counteroffers.”

Park told Global News he was recruited by Lenore Eaton of Energize Alberta to work on the 2017 UCP leadership campaign.

Eaton was CFO of Energize Alberta Corporation while also working as the CFO of the Callaway campaign.

Prohibited entities, which Energize Alberta Corporation would be in this case, are not allowed to make contributions to a leadership contestant or campaign.

Park said he submitted an invoice of $10,000 to Energize Alberta, of which the majority was a signing bonus and the rest covered wages for the first two weeks of the campaign.

Bank statements reviewed by Global News show Park received a $10,000 wire transfer from Davies on Sept. 11, 2017 — the same day the election commissioner believes $60,000 was dispersed to the Callaway campaign.

WATCH: (March 27) Former UCP candidate fined in relation to kamikaze campaign

According to the appeal, Park was approached by Davies on September 8, 2017, and asked that he and his wife donate $4,000 to the campaign to help meet a $57,000 UCP leadership contestant fee, which was due on Sept. 14.

Park said if that fee wasn’t paid, Callaway would be forced to drop out of the race.

“Not wanting the Callaway campaign to end, Mr Park agreed that he and his wife would each donate $3,500 from his earnings if and when he was paid the $10,000 that he had invoiced Energize Alberta,” the documents read.

Park said he wasn’t concerned that the $10,000 payment came from Davies and not Energize Alberta.

“In my experience in politics, it was not outrageous,” Park said in an interview with Global News on April 25. “It was not unusual for some other member of the team that I might technically be included under in the [organizational] chart to be the source of my payment. It’s happened before and it’s happened since.”

READ MORE: ‘Findings of the investigation are unreasonable’ — Jeff Park’s lawyer responds to Alberta’s election commissioner

Remedies sought

Park wants the fines levied against him to be voided by the court.

He also wants a declaration that the decision was unreasonable, biased and invalid.

If the court finds that Park did contravene the EFCDA, Park intends to appeal the imposed penalties because “the amount is excessively high and disproportionate, and therefore unreasonable.”

So far, $71,000 in fines have been levied in relation to the Callaway leadership campaign.

Court documents obtained by Global News reveal that Callaway has been ordered to repay $26,500 in donations, but that has not been published by the election commissioner.

Eaton was fined a total of $10,000 last week, and documents reveal she could face a maximum fine of $50,000, less than two years of jail time or both.

‘Kamikaze campaign’

Callaway’s leadership bid has been dogged by allegations it was a kamikaze campaign with the sole purpose of targeting Kenney’s main opponent, Brian Jean. Callaway ultimately dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Kenney.

Emails released to local media, including Global News, earlier this year show ongoing contact during the 2017 leadership race between the Kenney and Callaway campaigns. They suggest Kenney staffers provided strategic direction, attack ads, speaking notes, speeches and media support to the Callaway campaign.

Throughout the 2019 Alberta general election campaign, Kenney denied involvement in the scheme.

The RCMP has confirmed it is looking into the 2017 UCP leadership race.

— With files from Global News’ Julia Wong 

Email tips in confidence to adam.macvicar@globalnews.ca and julia.wong@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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