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Energize Alberta fined by Election Commissioner in Callaway UCP leadership investigation

An organization related to Jeff Callaway's so-called kamikaze UCP leadership bid has been fined over $15,000.
An organization related to Jeff Callaway's so-called kamikaze UCP leadership bid has been fined over $15,000. Global News

Energize Alberta, an organization linked to Jeff Callaway’s United Conservative Party leadership bid, has been fined $18,373 by Alberta’s Election Commissioner for prohibited contributions.

Callaway’s run for UCP leader has been dubbed the so-called kamikaze campaign.

Energize Alberta was deemed a prohibited entity as it wasn’t registered as a third party political advertiser with Elections Alberta, and not allowed to make contributions to a leadership contestant or campaign.

Lorne Gibson, the province’s election commissioner, levied six fines against Energize Alberta earlier this week, each fine for allegedly contributing prohibited donations to Callaway’s 2017 leadership campaign.

Each penalty matches an alleged contribution, ranging between $573 and $6,300.

READ MORE: Court documents shed light on allegations in UCP leadership campaign

According to documents obtained by Global News, Energize Alberta reimbursed contributor Jennifer Thompson for a donation of $3,900 to the campaign.

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On July 17, 2019, the election commissioner levied a fine against Thompson for donating to Callaway’s campaign “with funds given or furnished by Energize Alberta Corp.”  Thompson has applied for a judicial review.

Lenore Eaton, formerly the chief financial officer for the Callaway campaign, also acted as the CFO for Energize Alberta.

Earlier this year, Eaton faced a total of $10,000 in fines for not advising the campaign’s CEO of a contribution to the campaign by Energize Alberta, as well as making a false statement on a Leadership Contestant Financial Statement.  Eaton paid both $5,000 fines on September 5.

Findings by the OEC reveal Eaton signed cheques from Energize Alberta Corporation for two workers on the campaign, including Callaway’s executive assistant Jeff Park.

Global News reviewed two cheques Park received from Energize Alberta. A letter from the election commissioner indicates Park believed he was being paid by a political action committee.  Park is facing two fines of $5,250 by the election commissioner for allegedly donating money to Callaway’s campaign that was given to him by another person. He has applied to appeal both fines.

To date, $184,023 in fines have been levied in relation to Callaway’s campaign.

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

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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.

In a statement to Macleans Magazine in March, Lore claimed the $60,000 was only a loan from a company he owned.

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

Callaway has applied for a judicial review, expected to be heard next year.

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

The Callaway campaign has been dogged with allegations it was a so-called kamikaze campaign, aimed at targeting Brian Jean; the main opponent of then-Progressive Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney.

Callaway ultimately dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Kenney.

Emails released to 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.

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Kenney has vehemently denied any any involvement in the scheme.

None of the allegations against Callaway’s campaign have been proven in court.

The RCMP is also looking into the 2017 UCP leadership race, confirming in a tweet that the investigation is related to identity fraud.

-With files from Global News’ Julia Wong.