Jeff Callaway fined $70,000 by Alberta Election Commissioner

A 2017 file photo of Jeff Callaway.
A 2017 file photo of Jeff Callaway. Global News

Editor’s note: The story initially said Callaway was fined $68,000, but was later corrected to $70,000. 

Former United Conservative Party leadership candidate Jeff Callaway has been fined $70,000 by Alberta’s election commissioner for irregular campaign contributions.

Callaway faces 24 fines in relation to the 2017 leadership race, including a $15,000 penalty for colluding with Calgary businessman Robyn Lore “to circumvent a contribution limit.”

The fines also include soliciting or accepting a $60,000 contribution “that the contestant knew or ought to have known was from a prohibited person or entity,” according to the election commissioner’s website.

According to letters obtained by Global News, it’s alleged the money was donated to the campaign through a Calgary-based business called Agropyron. A corporate search lists Robyn Lore as a director of the company.

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READ MORE: What we know so far about election commissioner’s investigation into Jeff Callaway’s UCP leadership bid

It’s alleged that money was then used to make contributions to Callaway’s campaign in other people’s names.

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.

Watch below (March 18): Typically, a throne speech would take centre stage, but on Monday, UCP leader Jason Kenney was asked about controversy surrounding the 2017 UCP leadership race. Vinesh Pratap explains. 

Click to play video 'UCP leadership scandal overshadows Alberta throne speech' UCP leadership scandal overshadows Alberta throne speech
UCP leadership scandal overshadows Alberta throne speech – Mar 18, 2019

Kenney has denied any involvement in the scheme.

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

Randy Kerr, formerly a UCP candidate in Calgary-Beddington, was also fined $10,000 in the latest round of fines.

According to the election commissioner website, Kerr was fined for contributing $4,000 to Callaway’s campaigns “with funds given or furnished by another person.”

Two former contributors to the Callaway campaign, Jennifer and Darren Thompson, were also fined $5,850 and $5,250 respectively, for contributions the Alberta election commissioner believes came from Energize Alberta, a prohibited entity.

Lenore Eaton served as CFO of Energize Alberta while also working as CFO of Callaway’s campaign.

To date, $168,350 in fines have been levied in relation to Callaway’s campaign.

Opposition NDP critic Heather Sweet said Kenney needs to kick Callaway and his campaign team out of the party.

“The sheer scale of illegal behaviour inside the UCP is truly disgraceful, and it reveals a culture of corruption,” Sweet said in a statement Thursday.

“If Jason Kenney is unwilling to condemn the actions of the Callaway campaign, he is telling Albertans that he tolerates illegal behaviour inside the party he leads.”

Kenney’s office did not immediately respond.

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— With files from The Canadian Press