EDMONTON — One of the candidates in Alberta’s 2017 United Conservative leadership race has been hit with a total of $70,000 in fines for breaking fundraising rules.
The penalty, levied by Alberta’s election commissioner against Jeff Callaway, is for two dozen separate offences and includes a $15,000 fine for colluding with a third party to circumvent contribution limits.
Callaway, a Calgary-based investment adviser, was fined mainly for accepting prohibited contributions and for giving money to third parties who in turn donated it back to his campaign.
There is an $8,000 fine for accepting a $60,000 contribution he knew, or should have known, came from a prohibited source.
There is also a $5,000 fine for knowingly making a false statement on leadership contest financial filings.
Callaway could not be immediately reached for comment.
The election commissioner also fined Randy Kerr, who had been Callaway’s campaign manager, $10,000 for contributing $4,000 to the Callaway campaign with money given to him by someone else.
The party removed Kerr as its UCP candidate for Calgary-Beddington shortly before last spring’s election campaign. It cited concerns about the answers Kerr had given about his Callaway contribution.
Under election financing rules, people cannot make more than $4,000 a year in political contributions and it’s illegal to donate on behalf of another person or entity.
Opposition NDP critic Heather Sweet said Premier Jason Kenney needs to kick Callaway and his campaign team out of the party.
“The sheer scale of illegal behaviour inside the UCP is truly disgraceful, and it reveals a culture of corruption,” Sweet said in a statement Thursday.
“If Jason Kenney is unwilling to condemn the actions of the Callaway campaign, he is telling Albertans that he tolerates illegal behaviour inside the party he leads.”
WATCH: Jason Kenney sworn in as Alberta premier. Story continues below.
Kenney’s office did not immediately respond.
Callaway was one of three candidates who ran against Kenney for the UCP’s top job.
Documents and correspondence have since surfaced indicating that the Callaway and Kenney teams worked together to undermine Kenney’s main rival, former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean.
Callaway’s team received talking points and policy advice on how to attack Jean.
One piece of correspondence discussed at what point Callaway should drop out of the race — which he did three weeks before the vote. He threw his support to Kenney.
Kenney won the race handily and became premier when he led the party to victory in April’s election.
He has denied working with Callaway to torpedo Jean’s campaign, and has said the communications between the Callaway and Kenney camps reflect the normal rough and tumble of politics.
The UCP leadership race is being investigated by the RCMP. A special prosecutor has been engaged from Ontario to provide guidance as needed.
Mounties have been investigating whether email addresses were fraudulently attached to party memberships to cast ballots. Five members of Kenney’s cabinet have been questioned.
The case also involves sitting UCP legislature member Peter Singh.
Singh won the Calgary-East seat in the election, just days after police raided his auto-repair shop and confiscated a computer hard drive in what Singh’s lawyer has said was part of the UCP leadership investigation.
Singh has said he is innocent. He has never been charged.
WATCH: Kenney wins leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party