RCMP helps investigate allegations against Tory MP’s election campaign
RCMP officers have been brought in to help Elections Canada with two separate investigations into alleged financing violations in the 2008 campaign of Dean Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister.
Mounties from the Integrated Technical Crime Unit were brought in to analyze computer evidence in Elections Canada’s investigation of allegations of campaign spending by Del Mastro’s 2008 re-election campaign in his Peterborough riding.
In an application for a court order filed by investigator Thomas Ritchie in February 2012, the agency states that it believes that Del Mastro and official agent Richard McCarthy exceeded the spending cap on campaign expenses by more than $17,000 and filed a “false document” in their return.
Elections Canada alleges that Del Mastro reported spending $1,575 on voter canvassing and get-out-the-vote activities by Holinshed Research Group, but actually paid them $21,000 by personal cheque.
Holinshed, which unsuccessfully sued Del Mastro in small claims court alleging that Del Mastro refused to pay them for subsequent work, later went out of business.
In October, eight months after seeking the court order for documents from Holinshed, investigators called in specialized RCMP officers to analyze and authenticate computer files — emails and invoices related to Del Mastro campaign transactions, according to a source with knowledge of aspects of the investigation.
When the Citizen and Postmedia reported on the investigation into Del Mastro in June, the MP gave interviews saying he had followed all the rules, expressing anger and confusion that Elections Canada hadn’t contacted him.
In August, he gave investigators a cautioned statement, meaning the evidence he gave can be used in court. His explanation of the services purchased in the campaign was at odds with electronic documents from Holinshed, which is why the RCMP were brought in to analyze the files, according to a source.
At least one RCMP officer is also actively investigating allegations of illegal donations related to the same 2008 campaign.
Last week, Inspector Paul Collins began knocking on doors in the Toronto area, hoping to interview donors who had given money to either Del Mastro’s campaign or to the Conservative Party association in his riding.
Collins, formerly head of the RCMP’s counterfeit and identity fraud unit, was temporarily seconded to Elections Canada in October to help with their on-going investigations.
Elections Canada has a memo-of-understanding with the RCMP that allows the agency to draw on the federal police force to bolster its own investigators, who are also busy probing complaints in the so-called robocalls scandal in more than 200 ridings across the country.
Collins and investigator Ron Lamothe are apparently looking into allegations first reported by the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News concerning donations made to Del Mastro’s campaign by people affiliated with a Mississauga electrical company owned by his cousin.
A former employee of Deltro Electric Ltd. says company owner David Del Mastro asked staff members to recruit donors. They were paid $1,050 by Deltro for making $1,000 donations to Del Mastro’s campaign, said the former employee, who produced cancelled cheques and a sworn statement to back up the claim.
In addition to the $50 payment, those who participated were allowed to claim the $1,000 deduction on their tax returns, the former employee said.
David Del Mastro has denied the allegation, saying he only asked people he knew to give voluntarily to his cousin’s campaign.
Collins and Lamothe showed up unannounced at the home of several of the donors last week to discuss the donations, although it is unclear if anyone agreed to speak to them. The investigators were later contacted by Allan Kaufman, the Toronto lawyer who represents several of the the donors.
Kaufman says he repeated to Collins his offer to allow his clients to give evidence about the alleged donation scheme if they are offered immunity from prosecution for their involvement. Elections Canada legal counsel rejected that offer in the summer, saying only prosecutors could make that kind of deal.
Kaufman says he’s baffled why they have spurned his offer, saying he has offered the agency “a conviction on a platter and Elections Canada has turned it down, for the last nine months.”
Kaufman says that he understands that Collins and Lamothe have copies of cheques related to the investigation, though he wasn’t certain if they had obtained court orders to compel the release of records from the banks involved or whether they simply had seen copies of cheques published with Citizen and Postmedia News reports.
“Even if they have cheques, they need the storyline” of what happened from his clients, Kaufman said. “People aren’t going to implicate themselves unless they have immunity.”
David Del Mastro told the Citizen in June that the allegations about the donations came from a disgruntled former Deltro employee. He has refused to comment since and hung up when asked for comment Wednesday.
According to court documents, David Del Mastro reported an income of $309,000 in 2008, the year of the election. In addition to Deltro, he owns a 90 per cent share in a hyperbaric medicine clinic. In 2010, in the midst of acrimonious divorce action, he sold off his 5 per cent share in the Oshawa Generals Junior A hockey team.
Although he served as the government’s lead defender of the robocalls allegations, Dean Del Mastro has kept a low profile since news of the allegations about his campaign first surfaced last spring. He retains the role as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, earning $15,834 on top of his MP’s pay of $157,731, but rarely answers questions in the House of Commons.
He has also skipped 11 consecutive meetings of the House of Commons Access to Information and Ethics committee on which he sits.
Del Mastro has also denied any knowledge of donations allegedly arranged by his cousin.View Article from Ottawa Citizen Here