An MP who serves as an aide to Stephen Harper is preparing to meet with Elections Canada to offer his side of the story as the watchdog probes allegations of campaign spending irregularities.
Dean Del Mastro, Conservative MP for Peterborough, is also Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and frequently relied upon to defend the Tories against accusations that fellow partisans were behind fraudulent calls to voters in Guelph during the 2011 election.
But it’s Mr. Del Mastro’s campaign expenses from the 2008 ballot that interest Elections Canada.
Elections Canada won’t discuss its investigation of Mr. Del Mastro. But recent court documents detail alleged breaches of the Elections Act and an agency investigator says Mr. Del Mastro paid the Ottawa-based Holinshed Research Group $21,000 for calls to voters that wasn’t declared in the MP’s 2008 campaign finance return.
Holinshed was “paid by Dean Del Mastro from his personal bank account in a manner that facilitated the concealing and misreporting of election expenses and contributions,” investigator Thomas Ritchie said in a recent Elections Canada filing.
Mr. Del Mastro has been trying to arrange a meeting with Elections Canada since mid-June, his lawyer said.
He’ll be giving what’s called a “cautioned statement” to the watchdog – one where anything the subject says can be used as evidence in an investigation.
His lawyer told The Globe and Mail it was only Thursday that Elections Canada finally called and said it wants to speak to Mr. Del Mastro.
“I received a telephone call [Thursday] from Elections Canada investigator Thomas Ritchie indicating that he is now prepared to meet with Mr. Del Mastro for the purpose of taking a cautioned audio recorded statement,” Mr. Ayotte said.
“Mr. Del Mastro has accepted the invitation ... and we are in the process of scheduling a date and time for this meeting,” he said.
Elections Canada won’t say whether it’s also investigating reports by the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia that former employees of a Mississauga electrical company owned by the politician’s cousin were allegedly reimbursed for donating to the MP’s 2008 campaign.
One former employee has signed a statutory declaration describing how Deltro Electric Ltd. paid them $1,050 for $1,000 donations to Mr. Del Mastro’s riding association.
Mr. Del Mastro on July 4 predicted he will be cleared of all allegations. “At the end of this process, I will be fully exonerated and I think there will be some serious questions for others to answer.”