NDP leadership candidate Anjali Appadurai is under investigation by the party for possible breaches to the BC Election Act.
Over the weekend, Appadurai hosted an Instagram Live social media event where she appears on screen with Atiya Jaffar.
Jaffar is currently on unpaid parental leave as the digital manager at 350.org.
The perceived goal of the video was to encourage supporters to join the NDP before the Sept. 4 membership deadline to vote in the upcoming leadership race.
“It is a $10 minimum donation to join,” Appadurai said on the video.
“One of these things about joining a political party is it is not the most intuitive process. And most people won’t do it if they just see it on a screen. They need to be told by a trusted person. It is invaluable to reach out to you network.”
Then Jaffar chimed in on the social media video about helping potential members with the $10 fee.
“It is $10 to turn out. It is really nothing if you think about how much this is going to matter. It is a handful of people who will get to decide this race and who the next premier is. Message me if you need the ten dollars because I am happy to provide that to you,” Jaffar said.
Individuals are not legally allowed to pay for someone else’s membership under BC Election Act.
If Jaffar did pay for any membership it would have been a breach of the law.
Appadurai is considered a long shot in the leadership race but is one of only two people running.
In an interview Thursday, Appadurai says they are cooperating with the party’s investigation.
“I hoped on three and a half hours before the leadership cutoff with an old friend of mine,” Appadurai said on Thursday.
“During that call my friend misspoke. She was not familiar with the rules and she said she would provide free memberships which is against the act. I was distracted (by) the live nature of the call. So I didn’t clock in what happened. But afterwards when we were able to review we clarified with the team what happened and we immediately took the video down.”
Front runner David Eby has support of nearly all of the current BC NDP caucus. The party is expected to announce the new leader on Dec. 3.
John Horgan announced in June his plans to step down as premier as soon as the party found a new leader.
“These are serious allegations,” Eby said.
“I have confidence in the BC NDP to thoroughly investigate any claims of illegal or prohibited activities. I will stay focused on connecting with BC NDP members and building for the future of our party and our province.”
The party is still looking for more information from Appadurai before determining whether this is going to be passed on to Elections BC.
UBC political scientist Gerald Baier says this investigation could have a serious impact on the leadership race.
“It Is a reputational hit that this leads to. It may potentially lead to a disqualification and it is something that could come back,” Baier said.
“Organizations like 350 do have funds and they are trying to use them to influence policy.”
The BC NDP is also currently looking at the role of BC Green members and supporters on the Appadurai campaign.
Both the NDP and the Greens have clauses in their constitution forbidding members from being members of two federal or two provincial parties at the same time.
The BC NDP have asked the campaign to provide proof Michelle Sheardown is no longer a member of the Green Party and is only a NDP member.
Sheardown says she has provided NDP leadership chief electoral officer Elizabeth Cull emails showing she resigned from the Green Party before becoming a BC NDP member.
Former Green Party candidate Harrison Johnston is also working on Appadurai’s leadership campaign. Johnston also says he left the Green Party before joining the BC NDP.
Appadurai told Global News no one, to her knowledge, has joined the party to support her while also holding a membership with another party.
The party will announce the new leader on Dec. 3.