CBC News has learned the commissioner of Canada Elections has cleared the organizers of an event that raised nearly $40,000 — and provided tax receipts — to pay some of former MP Dean Del Mastro's legal fees.
Investigator Al Mathews, who investigated the 2011 illegal robocalls in Guelph, Ont., probed the fundraiser but found nothing improper about it.
The Conservative electoral district association in Peterborough, Ont. arranged a May, 2013 event at Toronto's swanky Albany Club in support of Del Mastro. The event featured former prime minister Brian Mulroney as the headliner. Because it was billed as a riding association event, anyone who bought one of the $600-tickets was issued a tax receipt for $515.
The money was never intended for the riding association, however, according to its president. The money went straight to Del Mastro, Alan Wilson told CBC News last fall.
"These were funds that were raised separately and essentially moved through the EDA. They were put into the EDA and moved straight back out again. So we did not provide any of our funds for Mr. Del Mastro's defence," Alan Wilson said.
Broke no rules
CBC News has learned Wilson was informed this week that Mathews has ended his investigation, finding that the association broke no rules. Canada has no guidelines for how federal riding associations spend their money outside of an election period.
Wilson would only say he's pleased with the determination the riding association did nothing wrong.
Political contributions are eligible for a tax credit of up to $650, depending on the amount contributed. The Del Mastro event collected $39,310 for his defence. Using a formula provided on the website of Elections Canada, CBC News calculated that was worth $23,851.13 in tax credits.
Del Mastro, who was elected three times as a Conservative MP, stepped down from the caucus when he was charged in 2013 with breaking election spending rules. He resigned his seat in the House of Commons last fall, a few days after he was found guilty of spending too much on his 2008 campaign, donating too much to himself and faking paperwork to cover it up. Del Mastro faces a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a $6,000 fine.
Del Mastro's official agent, Richard McCarthy, was also found guilty of overspending and covering it up. Another charge against both men was stayed.
The two men were scheduled for a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Peterborough, but the court spent the day dealing with three applications filed by Del Mastro's lawyer, Leo Adler.
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