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The RCMP is also investigating if fraudulent e-mails were used to cast ballots in the race.Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

A candidate who ran against Jason Kenney to take over the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservatives has been handed $70,000 in fines for violating fundraising rules and making false statements about his finances after the 2017 campaign.

Penalties against Jeff Callaway and people who donated to his leadership campaign have accumulated over the past six months, now reaching nearly $170,000 in total, as Alberta’s election commissioner has fined nearly a dozen contributors who made or accepted prohibited donations to the long-shot bid.

A number of the fines have been levied against people who gave money to third parties, who then donated the funds to the campaign.

The $70,000 in penalties levied against Mr. Callaway on Wednesday constitutes the largest number of fines issued against a single individual since the office of Alberta’s election commissioner was created less than two years ago.

Mr. Callaway, a Calgary-based investment adviser and former president of the now defunct Wildrose Party, has been accused of running a “kamikaze” campaign in which he attacked former Wildrose leader Brian Jean before pulling out of the race for the head of the UCP. Mr. Jean, who led the Wildrose to its greatest electoral success before agreeing to merge the party with the Progressive Conservatives, was Mr. Kenney’s main rival for the leadership.

Mr. Callaway eventually ended his campaign and endorsed Mr. Kenney, though in past statements he has denied working to benefit Mr. Kenney.

Leaked e-mails have indicated that senior members of Mr. Kenney’s leadership campaign provided material assistance to Mr. Callaway’s campaign.

The RCMP is also investigating whether fraudulent e-mails were used to cast ballots in the leadership race, which was eventually won by Mr. Kenney. He was elected as Alberta’s Premier in April. Five members of Mr. Kenney’s cabinet have been questioned about the e-mails. A special prosecutor from Ontario was called in by Alberta’s prosecution service to guide the case – the province’s Justice Minister, who has been questioned by the Mounties, has rejected calls to appoint an independent prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

The largest fine levied against Mr. Callaway on Wednesday is a $15,000 charge for having colluded with a third party to circumvent contribution limits. He was also hit with an $8,000 fine for accepting or soliciting a $60,000 contribution that he should have known was from a prohibited person or entity, according to Alberta’s election commissioner.

Mr. Callaway’s lawyer, Dale Fedorchuk, told The Globe and Mail his client would not be responding in public to the fines.

Three other people were fined $21,100 on Wednesday due to connections to Mr. Callaway’s campaign, including his campaign manager, Randy Kerr. A one-time UCP candidate who was dropped by the party because of his work with Mr. Callaway, Mr. Kerr was fined $10,000 for contributing someone else’s money to the Callaway camp.

Alberta’s election financing rules cap political donations at $4,000 a year and make it illegal to donate money on behalf of another person or entity.

The slow drip of new fines and allegations over the past six months have been damaging to Mr. Kenney, according to Lori Williams, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University. She said the fines show wrongdoing that undermines the democratic legitimacy of Mr. Kenney’s leadership win.

“This would be a different situation if Jason Kenney was enormously popular as an individual, but he isn’t Ralph Klein and we’re talking about real wrongdoing here. If this can be linked directly to Mr. Kenney this could have a real impact on whether he has a political future,” she said.

Alberta’s New Democrats have called on Mr. Kenney to distance himself from Mr. Callaway and the people who were part of his campaign.

“We haven’t seen any indication from Premier Kenney that he wants to clean up the corruption in his party. He won’t even acknowledge that the corruption exists,” NDP legislator Heather Sweet said. “If Jeff Callaway is still a part of his party he’s saying its okay for people to be involved in illegal behaviour and corruption.”

Mr. Kenney’s office did not respond to a request to comment about the continuing situation with Mr. Callaway.

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