All leadership donors and campaign expenses will be made public
By Christmas, political watchers will be able to see exactly how much money each of the three Tory leadership candidates raised, who they took donations from, how much they spent, and what they spent it on.
Unlike the Liberal leadership last year, which was a financial free for all, the Tories have solid rules in place for candidates, with an emphasis on public disclosure.
Speaking to The Telegram Friday, all three leadership candidates cheerfully said they’re happy to disclose how much money they’ve raised after the race is over. They don’t actually have a choice. After the Sept. 13 leadership convention, each of the candidates must submit full donor information and expenses. The party hopes to release it all to the public within three months of the convention.
“The PC party has been as open and transparent with this entire process as we can be,” convention co-chairwoman Sheila Kelly-Blackmore said.
Along with the disclosure requirement, the party has placed limits on candidates — they can’t spend more than $350,000l, and they can’t take more than $10,000 from any individual donor.
The limits won’t be an issue for John Ottenheimer.
“I can say with absolute certainty, I mean, we’re not going to raise close to that. I would say we will raise perhaps half, or less than half,” he said. “I would think most of our costs would be associated directly with the convention, you know, in terms of the paraphernalia that’s used there and the presentations and whatnot.”
Steve Kent also said he doesn’t foresee coming anywhere close to the $350,000 limit.
Paul Davis said he wanted to keep that information secret for the moment, saying that tipping his hand on how much he might plan to spend could help his opponents.
All three men are holding major fundraisers. Next week, Kent will hold a meet-and-greet event charging attendees $1,000 each. Ottenheimer held an event earlier this week — hosted by former Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie — charging attendees $2,500.
Davis has also done a $2,500-per-person event as well.
None of the three candidates would give any estimate on how much money they’ve raised so far, or how much they’ve spent.
All three candidates said that the disclosure requirement for donors hasn’t hurt their fundraising efforts very much.
All of this is in stark contrast to the Liberals last year, who placed no limits of any kind on candidates. The Top 3 candidates combined to spend more than $1 million on the campaign.
Paul Antle, who will be running for the Liberals in the next election, took $10,000 donations from eight different corporations during the leadership campaign; he still hasn’t disclosed who he took money from.
Cathy Bennett, now a Liberal MHA, took $156,000 in donations from corporations and individuals. She still hasn’t disclosed who she took money from.
Kent, for his part, said he’s not concerned that taking thousands of dollars in donations could compromise his judgement as a political leader.
“I can’t be bought. I’ve been accepting individual and corporate donations through five previous election campaigns, and that’s part of doing business,” he said.
“But I would never allow a financial contribution from a donor to affect my judgement. It hasn’t happened yet and it won’t happen in the future.”