NEWS

Election agency searches business of Dean Del Mastro's cousin

01/14/2014 01:21 EST | Updated 03/16/2014 05:59 EDT
Elections Canada investigators in October searched Deltro Electric, the business belonging to the cousin of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, over allegations of wrongful contributions to Del Mastro's election campaign.

A warrant filed in Ottawa court in October authorized Elections Canada investigators to search the business of David Del Mastro over allegations he paid employees to contribute to his cousin's 2008 campaign.

The search was authorized for Oct. 9, 2013, to gather financial records and other evidence related to allegations David Del Mastro gave $50 to 22 people and reimbursed them for $1,000 contributions to his cousin's election campaign, according to the search warrant.

Dean Del Mastro, who resigned from the Conservative caucus after being charged with election spending breaches in the same campaign, is not the subject of the warrant.

He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said he ran a clean campaign. 

Regarding the allegations about his cousin, The Canadian Press reported last June that the MP told reporters he didn’t know what they were talking about and said he sees many “silly stories” every day.

David Del Mastro denies allegations

David Del Mastro's lawyer said his client "denies participating in any breaches of the Elections Act."

"Given the relatively small amounts of monies involved in the investigation, it is troubling that Elections Canada continues to spend significant taxpayer resources in 2014 investigating an election financing matter from 2008,” Scott Fenton said in an email to CBC News.

The court documents were supposed to have been publicly available in November, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported, but "procedural complications" blocked the release. The newspaper's lawyer secured the release of the documents on Monday.

None of the allegations contained in the court documents, including an information to obtain (ITO) a search warrant, have been tested in court. No charges have been laid in connection with the investigation into the alleged contributions.

Elections Canada investigator Ron Lamothe writes in the documents that he is investigating whether David Del Mastro paid 22 people, including employees of Deltro Electric, $50 to donate to Dean Del Mastro's 2008 election campaign.

Those who made a $1,000 federal political donation were also eligible for a $558 refund on their federal income taxes.

David Del Mastro is alleged to have funded those $22,000 in donations. It is illegal under the Canada Elections Act for one person to contribute more than the maximum legal amount to a candidate, which at the time was $1,100. It is also illegal to hide the source of a contribution.

The spending limit for Peterborough in 2008 was $92,566.79.

Lamothe says in the documents that he believes Deltro Electric and David Del Mastro "did knowingly circumvent, or attempt to circumvent," the law prohibiting contributions over the limit.

Lamothe first became aware of the allegations after reports in the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia, and phoned David Del Mastro on Aug. 1, 2012, to ask to see his financial records and interview some staff, he says in the court records.

Del Mastro told him "I've done nothing wrong," and referred Lamothe to his lawyer, Lamothe writes in the documents. After an initial call from Fenton on Aug. 3, 2012, Lamothe writes that he called Fenton again on Oct. 19, and got a return call three days later saying Del Mastro would not co-operate with the investigation, provide a statement or allow access to company records or staff.

The names of the contributors are all blacked out in the court documents, which were supposed to be sealed until Feb. 9, 2014. Lamothe wrote in the application for the search warrant that the four-month sealing order would "provide sufficient time to review the items seized for evidence [to] be inspected and documented, and charges laid."

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