O’Leary alleges ‘vote rigging’ in Conservative leadership campaign

‘Campaign activists’ signing up fake members

TORONTO — Federal Conservative leadership hopeful Kevin O’Leary’s campaign is making allegations of what it calls “fraud” and “widespread vote rigging” in the race.

The celebrity businessman’s campaign issued a statement Thursday accusing “campaign activists” of using untraceable prepaid credit cards to sign up fake members.

The statement says that would violate federal election and campaign financing laws, adding that O’Leary’s campaign has complained to the party.

His campaign speculates some of those who have been signed up might not even know they’re members.

The statement didn’t say whose campaign is involved in the allegations.

A Conservative party spokesman says the party is looking into O’Leary’s accusations and says any memberships obtained contrary to party rules will be eliminated and those people will be ineligible to vote.

“Our rules are clear, any person looking to join our party must do so by paying the membership fee out of their own pocket, and we will ensure that principle is followed,” Cory Hahn said in an emailed statement.

O’Leary, who is considered one of the frontrunners in the race along with Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, said using prepaid credit cards is unacceptable.

“Beyond the legalities of this, it is completely immoral, and extremely unfair to the tens of thousands of real party members that will have the impact of their votes weakened,” O’Leary’s statement said.

“Not only does this constitute fraud, but it also poses a great risk to the future of the Conservative Party of Canada and to our collective voice.”

There is a Mar. 28 deadline for people to get a Conservative membership if they want to vote for one of the 14 candidates vying to become leader in May.

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