Thursday, November 1, 2012

Conservative Intergovernmental Affairs Minister has election finance problems

Records obtained by the CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) suggest that Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Panashue received an illegal corporate donation.
There was a single cheque issued by Pennecon Ltd. a St. John's Newfoundland construction company for $5,500 dollars. Corporate donations are illegal in Canada. However, a separate receipt was issued for each of six board members of the company. These receipts ranged from $550 to the maximum personal contribution of $1,100. These personal donations are eligible for a tax refund and are quite legal.
Records obtained by CBC News appear to indicate the campaign of federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue deposited a single cheque from Pennecon but wrote separate receipts to the board members for the donation. In the minister's election file there is a single line for the deposit by Pennecon of $5,000 and no separate board member donations are listed.
The individual receipts were all mailed to Pennecon and only one receipt listed a different mailing addres.. A spokesperson said that it is up to a client whether they want to lsit cheques separately or as a single item on a deposit slip.
The company said that it was conducting an internal review and cooperating with Elections Canada in its investigation. The company issued a statement which said:
"In recent days questions have arisen concerning contributions made by some Pennecon Limited executives to the 2011 federal campaign of Mr. Peter Penashue. Pennecon has been in contact with Elections Canada to offer its full co-operation in responding to any questions that the office may have.Pennecon and its executives place a high priority on ethical and transparent practices. It is assessing the current situation and conducting an internal review."
spokesperson for Penashue. Cory Hann, said:
"The minister was very clear during his campaign that no corporate donations would be accepted, and that donations to his campaign were to be personal donations made by individuals."
Documents in Penashue's Elections Canada file show his 2011 campaign would have spent over $24,000 in flights but he was able to make a deal with an airline in his riding that wrote off most of that amount. If he had paid market prices he would have overspent by over twenty per cent of what is allowed.
Penashue brokered a deal with Innu Mikun airlines and Provincial Airlines to provide both Penashue and his family for unlimited air transportation during the election period for a lump sum payment of $7,000. Any deduction from fair market value for transportation must be counted as a campaign contribution. Penashue was already $4,000 over his spending limits even after the airline deal. Penashure won his riding by only 79 votes.
Penashue also had close financial ties with an Innu development company, the Innu Development Limited Partnership. The company loaned Penashue $25,000 for campaign expenses after several checks issued by his campaign officials had bounced. The CEO of the development company at the time was Paul Rich, Penashue's brother-in-law. Innu Mikun airlines is co-owned by the Innu Development Limited Partnership. No doubt all these generous gestures during the campaign will need to be returned now that Penashue is a federal minister.

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