A special prosecutor tasked with investigating a controversial campaign to woo ethnic voters to the B.C. Liberal Party has approved Elections Act charges – though the allegations relate to a 2012 by-election and the full investigation of the ethnic outreach program won’t be complete until next year.
The Criminal Justice Branch on Monday announced charges against Brian Bonney, a former government communications director, and Mark Robertson, a Liberal Party employee. Charges were also approved against a numbered corporation.
A copy of the sworn information alleges political contributions and expenses contravened the Elections Act. The information says the contributions and expenses involved a campaign employee.
“On September 5, 2014, [special prosecutor David] Butcher advised the Criminal Justice Branch that he had approved charges against the above noted individuals and corporation,” a statement read.
“The evidence in support of these charges was gathered during the course of the investigation for which [Mr.] Butcher has been providing assistance in the form of legal advice to investigators.”
The branch said Mr. Butcher’s investigation into the ethnic outreach program as a whole is expected to run until early 2015.
“Once the investigation is complete and Mr. Butcher has reviewed the whole of the material provided by police, he will release the results of any decisions that he makes,” the statement read.
Jillian Stead, a B.C. Liberal Party spokeswoman, said the issue relates to financial reporting.
“In November, 2013, it was brought to our attention that the party had misreported a $2,240 expenditure related to the 2012 Port Moody Coquitlam by-election,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Liberal Premier Christy Clark’s office referred a request for comment back to the party.
An Elections B.C. spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.
The RCMP referred comment to the Criminal Justice Branch.
News of the ethnic voter scandal rocked Ms. Clark’s government when it broke. A draft ethnic voter plan, leaked in the legislature by the NDP, was developed with the objective of improving the B.C. Liberals’ appeal to ethnic communities through a series of so-called “quick wins,” including apologizing for historical wrongs affecting certain groups and building a stable of supporters to call in to radio talk shows.
Ms. Clark apologized several times for the scandal and accepted the resignation of her deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad. An inquiry into the scandal by Ms. Clark’s deputy minister John Dyble, found an elaborate and wide-reaching scheme with its roots in the Premier’s office.
Mr. Dyble’s report found Mr. Bonney in a serious breach of rules barring the mixing of taxpayers’ business with partisan activities. The report found he spent as much as half of his time in government working on B.C. Liberal business before he resigned, having collected a total of $124,000 on the public payroll.
The allegations against Mr. Bonney and Mr. Robertson have not been proven. They are scheduled to appear in court next month.Report Typo/Error