File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Jason Kenney speaks to the media at his first convention as leader of the United Conservative Party in Red Deer.

Campaigner fined $15K by elections commissioner in Alberta Conservative contest

EDMONTON — Alberta’s election commissioner has issued penalties totalling $15,000 surrounding an investigation into the 2017 United Conservative leadership race.

Commissioner Lorne Gibson has levelled two fines of $7,500 each to Cameron Davies, the co-campaign manager of Jeff Callaway’s campaign for the leadership.

The penalties were for obstruction of an investigation but, as is customary, no details were provided.

Davies declined comment and directed questions to his lawyer Dale Fedorchuk.

Fedorchuk, in a statement, said Davies denies the allegations and that they plan to appeal the decision to Court of Queen’s Bench.

“I note that the findings of the commissioner were not based upon a hearing, where oral evidence was presented and findings of fact made,” Fedorchuk wrote Tuesday.

“It is important that the public not make any conclusions or draw any inferences from the commissioner’s decision until this matter has been heard by the court.”

Callaway was one of four candidates who ran in 2017 to head up the United Conservative Party, which was formed after a merger of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties.

Jason Kenney won the leadership.

In 2018, questions arose over the campaign after a recording was made public in which UCP insiders discussed Callaway running a “kamikaze” campaign for Kenney, attacking key rival candidate Brian Jean and allowing Kenney to float above the fray.

Callaway joined the race and indeed attacked Jean, who had been the leader of the Wildrose. Callaway accused Jean of poorly managing caucus funds and losing touch with the grassroots.

He then dropped out before voting day to support Kenney.

Both Kenney and Callaway have denied engaging in such a scheme.

The United Conservatives said Davies had a contract to provide policy briefing notes to the party caucus since November.

Christine Myatt, a caucus spokeswoman, said that contract was terminated Tuesday.

“Mr. Davies advised that he was not the subject of any investigation. Mr. Davies was encouraged to fully co-operate with any inquiries made by the election commissioner and to advise us of any change in circumstance,” Myatt said in a release.

“On Feb. 26, 2019, the elections commissioner provided notice of two administrative penalties against Mr. Davies. As a result, Mr. Davies independent contractor agreement has been terminated.”

Myatt said at no time did the elections commissioner contact the UCP, the UCP caucus, Kenney’s office, nor Kenney’s leadership campaign about the investigation.

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