NEWS RELEASE · 9th May 2013
New Leaked Documents Show BC Liberals Using More Tax Dollars for Political Campaigning
A difficult new question is being asked after Global News exposed a secret plan hatched and executed in the Premier’s office to use tax dollars to fight the Port Moody by-election and prepare for this election.
“Did the Premier, or any members of her Cabinet, know that senior advisors in her office were meeting on government time and taxpayer dime to plan and run the BC Liberal Port Moody by-election campaign, and get other campaigns ready for this provincial election,” asked Port Coquitlam NDP candidate Mike Farnworth.
“The BC Liberal record is one of spending your money like it’s their own. First came the “quick-win” ethnic outreach scandal and now its taxpayer-funded swing riding teams and a speaker’s bureau. That’s not a record that deserves to be rewarded. It’s time for a change,” said Farnworth.
The leaked documents shed light on taxpayer-funded BC Liberal Party “swing riding” teams, initially focused on the riding of Port Moody. The documents show the campaign was run from the Premier’s office, at taxpayer’s expense, by four of her staff: Kim Haakstad, Dave Ritchie, Dimitri Pantazopolous, and Trevor Halford.
“Port Moody Swing Riding Group” activities included responding to “a push from the party/PO [Premier’s Office] to start pushing more Caucus to events in the riding” to support the BC Liberal party’s by-election efforts. Team meetings took place during regular business hours at the BC Legislature in Room 247.
The leaked BC Liberal plan also details how Premier’s office staff and BC Liberal Party regional organizers worked hand-in-hand, using tax dollars, to create a “Minister and MLA Speaker’s Bureau,” a key goal of which was “making sure every single one of our [BC Liberal] riding associations is active and growing stronger as we get closer to May 2013.”
The BC Liberal plan was written by Haakstad, Christy Clark’s former Deputy Chief of Staff. Responsibility for ensuring taxpayer-funded “staff and [BC Liberal] local organizers can coordinate effectively” belonged to and Ritchie, Ms. Clark’s ministerial assistant. The salaries of Haakstad, Mayencourt and Ritchie were all paid for by taxpayers.
All the communication was done from private e-mail accounts, likely to conceal the use of taxpayer resources for partisan activities. Such a move would keep the plans from being seen by the public through freedom of information requests.