Elections BC CEO Keith Archer (Black Press)

Party fundraising probe goes to RCMP

Elections BC wants to maintain neutrality for May 9 vote

Elections BC has referred its investigation of alleged party fundraising violations to the RCMP, to clear the way for administration of the upcoming provincial election.

Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer issued a statement Friday, saying the office will support the RCMP’s review of “indirect political contributions” and other potential contraventions of the Election Act.

“This investigation has been referred to ensure that it will in no way impede Elections BC’s administration of the provincial general election scheduled for May 9,” Archer said. “This referral will also ensure that there is no perception that Elections BC’s ability to administer the general election in a fair, neutral and impartial manner is in any way compromised.”

The investigation began after media reports of lobbyists buying tickets for BC Liberal Party fundraising events and charging the cost back to clients who have government business. Indirect political contributions are only allowed if the original source of the money is disclosed.

Archer has clarified that the review involves all provincial parties reporting donations, but the focus has been on the BC Liberals, who raised more than $12 million last year thanks to a lack of limits on individual, corporate and union donations.

Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday the government will introduce legislation next week to require all parties to report the amount and source of all contributions as they come in, rather than the current practice where the full tally of donations is produced by Elections BC after the vote.

Deputy Premier Rich Coleman, co-chair of the BC Liberal election committee, said it is up to donors to disclose their source of funds, and he is confident the party has followed the rules.

NDP leader John Horgan said his party is conducting its own review of lobbyist donations going back to 2013.

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