Former BC Liberal Communications Director Brian Bonney Charged In “Ethnic Vote Buying” Scandal

Will This Hurt Premier Christy Clark And BC Liberal Party's Re-Election Chances Next May?

BC Liberal-charged-ethnic scandalA draft ethnic voter plan, leaked in the legislature by the NDP, was developed with the objective of improving the B.C. Liberals' appeal to ethnic communities through a series of what were described as “quick wins,” including apologizing for historical wrongs affecting certain groups and building a stable of supporters to call in to radio talk shows. B.C. Premier Christy Clark apologized several times for the ethnic outreach scandal and accepted the resignation of her deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad. An inquiry into the scandal by Clark's deputy minister John Dyble, found an elaborate and wide-reaching scheme with its roots in the Premier's office.

DESIBUZZbc (1)-RedVANCOUVER – A former communications director in the British Columbia government has been charged with breach of trust in connection with a strategy by the Liberals to win ethnic votes in the 2013 election.

A special prosecutor approved the charge against Brian Bonney in connection with the duties of his office Tuesday morning.

Bonney was also charged, along with former Liberal Party staffer Mark Robertson, in 2014 with expense violations under the Elections Act.

Bonney and Robertson were both due in court Tuesday afternoon. None of the allegations against the pair have been tested in court.

Special prosecutor David Butcher was appointed in 2013 following an affair that has been dubbed the “quick wins” scandal in local media.

BC Liberal-charged-ethnic scandal3A draft ethnic voter plan, leaked in the legislature by the NDP, was developed with the objective of improving the B.C. Liberals' appeal to ethnic communities through a series of what were described as “quick wins,” including apologizing for historical wrongs affecting certain groups and building a stable of supporters to call in to radio talk shows, reported Globe and Mail newspaper.

The province’s criminal justice branch confirmed the breach of trust charge in a statement issued Tuesday, though it did not elaborate on the specific allegations other than to say it was related to the ethnic outreach plan.

The B.C. Liberal Party has previously said the Election Act charges stemming from the 2012 by-election were related to financial reporting.

BC Liberal-charged-ethnic scandal4B.C. Premier Christy Clark apologized several times for the ethnic outreach scandal and accepted the resignation of her deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad. An inquiry into the scandal by Clark's deputy minister John Dyble, found an elaborate and wide-reaching scheme with its roots in the Premier's office.

Dyble’s report found Bonney spent as much as half of his time in government working on B.C. Liberal business before he resigned, having collected a total of $124,000 on the public payroll.

Clark’s party turned over a cheque to the government for $70,000 as compensation for Bonney’s work on behalf of the party when he was working for government.

In the earlier election expenses case, Bonney and Robertson were each been charged with three offences under the Election Act in relation to election contributions and expenses.

Bonney is the former Liberal B.C. government's communications director. Robertson worked for the Liberal party as the director of field operations.

According to Elections BC, the charges each carry a potential fine of up to $10,000 and/or a year in jail, although a spokesperson said no one has ever yet been jailed in B.C. under those charges.

Brand-D-LogoAccording to the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, the charges arose out of conduct alleged to have occurred during the Port Moody-Coquitlam provincial byelection in 2012.

Documents leaked to CBC News by the NDP at the time included emails between a number of B.C. Liberals from their private accounts in October 2011, and suggested the existence of a taxpayer-funded "Port Moody 'Swing Riding' Team."​

Vancouver criminal lawyer David Butcher was appointed by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch to act as an independent special prosecutor in the case.

Both Bonney and Robertson were charged with two counts each of "making a political contribution" and one each of incurring "an unauthorized election expense" for providing the services of campaign worker Sepideh Sarrafpour to Port Moody Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden in the 2012 byelection without informing Marsden's financial agent, contrary to the Election Act.

Marsden lost the byelection to former Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini.

 

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