Conservative leadership membership drive comes under a cloud

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O’Leary’s campaign outreach chair Ron Chatha says he’s innocent

The world of politics just got a wee bit murkier this week when allegations of irregularities in membership recruitment drives for Conservative leadership candidates has ended up tarring everyone to some extent.

Brampton East Riding Association president and national outreach chair for Kevin O’Leary’s campaign alerted party officials to suspect membership signings. O’Leary then made this startling allegation about a rival fraudulently signing up new party members using prepaid credit cards.

Maxime Bernier too exchanged allegations against O’Leary as all the leadership contenders are currently in a race to sign up new members in their campaign bid at voting time.

A prompt review found hundreds of memberships purchased online through two IP addresses and not paid for by individual members as required by rule.

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The findings resulted in the party removing 1,351 people from its membership rolls.

Party officials said they could not trace the purchases to any specific campaign or campaigns.

Following this initial allegation, Bernier said his campaign was the target of the allegations and responded by insinuating wrong-doing by O’Leary.

A media report stated that Bernier’s campaign provided the newspaper with an affidavit signed by six individuals who claimed Chatha offered to pay for their party memberships.

Such action would be a violation of party rules.

Chatha responded and added that the accusations were false and that he was being set-up.

“I have nothing to hide,” said Chatha, who added he has requested a copy of the affidavit and would pursue legal action to defend his reputation.

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Chatha said he has never met the three individuals quoted in the Globe and Mail story and hasn’t been given the names of the other three.

According to Chatha, Jass Johal, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party candidate in Brampton North, is a Bernier supporter and paralegal at the law firm that handled the affidavit.

In a statement released Sunday, the O’Leary campaign insisted it would proceed to operate by the rules in a transparent manner, and call for an audit of the voters list when it is finalized at the end of March.

Bernier’s camp, which said it would not provide a copy of the affidavit, now wants to put an end to any mudslinging and focus on campaign issues.

The mud-slinging may have stopped, but there is mud smeared on quite a few individuals. – CINEWS

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Comments: 1

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  1. I had a gentleman come to my door wanting to sign me up, and told me ‘don’t worry about about paying – it’s taken care of…’ so I guess it’s true. I explained I don’t ‘sign up’ for parties and he and his partner left.
    It didn’t leave me with a good impression about the candidate, when they break party ethics rules from the start.