Davison responds to allegations of 3rd-party advertiser relationship in Calgary mayoral race

Davison said the complaints are the result of an over-eager campaign volunteer and his campaign is working on a solution to the matter. Kevin Billo / Global News

Mayoral candidate and Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison said allegations that his campaign broke election fundraising rules have become “deeply personal” for him and are the result of an “overly enthusiastic volunteer.”

“To simply roll over and have some bulls*** claim made about my integrity and my ethics is unacceptable,” Davison told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference. “We take these actions obviously seriously and have taken steps to ensure it won’t happen again.”

The volunteer in question is still with the campaign, Davison said.

Davison maintained his campaign did nothing wrong and said his campaign and the third-party advertiser are separate entities.

Global News has learned of at least one complaint to the Election Commissioner from Jan Damery’s campaign that stems from a golf tournament fundraiser scheduled for Thursday and hosted by a third-party advertiser called Calgary Tomorrow.

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An email advertising the golf event was sent to Davison supporters on July 6, stating the candidate was hosting the Jeff Davison for Mayor fundraising tournament.

The email was sent from a Davison campaign staffer on an email account not associated with the campaign and included a registration form that prompted donors for personal or corporate donations. The registration form suggested corporate donations be made out to Calgary Tomorrow.

A follow-up email from the Davison staffer was sent to supporters on July 20.

The updated registration form advertised the event as the Calgary Tomorrow fundraiser and said “proceeds from the tournament will be used to conduct election advertising in support of Jeff Davison’s run for mayor.”

Perks for donations included being able to ask questions and have breakfast with Davison at the event.

According to the Local Authorities Elections Act, campaigns are not allowed to receive donations from corporations, unions or third-party groups, but third-party advertisers are allowed to receive those types of donations.

The act also states that candidates and third parties cannot work together to circumvent contribution or expense limits.

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The Election Commissioner would not confirm whether or not there is or would be an investigation, and Davison said his campaign has not yet been contacted by the commissioner regarding the complaints.

“My campaign has worked diligently to operate within the rules, and we will continue to do so,” Davison said. “We will work with Elections Alberta to make sure that any complaint against this campaign is resolved immediately.”

Davison added he would not be in attendance at the golf tournament on Thursday.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the situation “deeply problematic” when asked about the complaints on Monday.

“This is simple: union and corporate donations are not allowed in campaigns,” Nenshi said. “You cannot use a third-party advertiser to launder corporate donations so they end up in your campaign.”

Nenshi was also critical of the new campaign finance rules unveiled by the province late last year and said the legislation does have loopholes.

On Wednesday morning, Davison said he agreed with the mayor’s sentiments on the rules and said if elected, he would work with the province to have them overhauled.

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“These election rules are messy and overly complex. They’re actually complex for no reason. I don’t think anybody likes them,” Davison said. “Calgarians are concerned about dark money being used to impact the outcome of this election. I get that, and I agree, and we need to ensure total transparency.”

Davison said that he can’t hobble his campaign by rejecting TPA support unless all other campaigns for mayor vow to do the same.

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