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Tory senator’s email backing O’Toole leadership bid broke Senate rules: probe

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Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos‘ office broke rules barring the use of official resources for partisan purposes by using his Senate email account and other resources to ask more than 200 people to support Erin O’Toole‘s bid for the party leadership, according to an investigation report.

As Global News reported in May, Housakos was hit with complaints about an email sent from his official Senate account on May 5 that used the subject line “CPC Leadership” and stated: “I believe the choice for leader is clear and that choice is Erin O’Toole.”

READ MORE: Tory senator hit with complaints over official email urging support for O’Toole leadership

It then asked recipients to “click here to support Erin O’Toole by becoming a member today” and provided a link to the website for buying Conservative memberships.

One of those complaints went to the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, and its subcommittee on agenda and proceedings released a report into the matter late last month stating Housakos’ email broke the rules.

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“Based on the clear restrictions imposed by the SARS (Senate Administration Rules) and the SOMP (Senators’ Office Management Policy), the act of sending the email as described above was not in compliance with the rules applicable to the use of Senate resources,” the report said.

That report established that the email was sent to a total of 221 recipients during regular working hours and that it was sent both by a Senate staffer and a Senate-issued laptop.

The report also stated that the email referred explicitly to “party leadership selection and the solicitation of party membership,” both of which are forbidden under the rules mentioned above.

READ MORE: Senate ethics committee urges second suspension of Sen. Lynn Beyak

Housakos told Global News when asked about the email in May that it was a mistake.

“You’ve drawn my attention to my inadvertent use of my Senate email instead of my personal account,” Housakos told Global News in an email when asked about the matter.

“As you can probably appreciate, when you have more than one account, it sometimes happens, especially in my case where I’m not the most tech-savvy person. No excuse but I do appreciate the heads-up and will certainly correct the error.”

The report said Housakos offered a similar explanation in an appearance there during the investigation into the complaint, which was submitted by Liberal MP Steve MacKinnon.

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“During his appearance at the subcommittee, Sen. Housakos confirmed that this was an inadvertent mistake, he apologized and took full responsibility for these actions,” the report stated.

No penalties are being imposed in relation to the violation.

The report states Housakos was told in a letter to better train his staff.

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