Friday, October 31, 2014

MP Dean del Mastro found guilty of overspending in 2008 federal campaign

Judge Lisa Cameron found Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro from Peterborough Ont. guilty of overspending in the 2008 federal election and falsifying a document to cover this up.

Del Mastro now could lose his seat in the House of Commons, and face a sentence of up to three years in jail, and also $6,000 in fines. However, Del Mastro is considering an appeal of the decision. Prosecutors claimed that Del Mastro had ordered $21,000 in services from Holinshed a now-defunct company. However, his campaign realized that claiming the whole amount would put it over the spending limit and so claimed only $1,575 was spent. Del Mastro however claims that the $21,000 he paid from his personal account was for separate services from Frank Hall, Holinshed's owner, that he had never actually delivered.
The judge countered Del Mastro's claim. She said that the timing of the contract and the language it contained showed that it "is plainly a contract for election services". She also described Del Mastro as not being credible and had a number of inconsistencies in his testimony. In particular, she rejected Del Mastro's claim that Frank Hall had falsified e-mail correspondence. She accepted the evidence of Hall while discounting the evidence of Del Mastro. Del Mastro has repeatedly attacked Hall even once in the House of Commons where he would be protected by parliamentary privilege.
 Del Mastro was once parliamentary secretary to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Del Mastro was convicted of three counts in all, exceeding the spending limit, taking steps to hide this, and finally exceeding his personal donation limit. Michelle Laliberte, a spokesperson for the Office of the Commissioner of Elections said: "Anyone convicted of having committed an offence that is considered to be an illegal practice under the act is not entitled to be elected or sit in the House of Commons for a period of five years from the date of conviction,"
However, Del Mastro said that he was not planning to leave his seat since he had a mandate from people in Peterborough his riding to serve them. He protested that he was innocent and had broken no laws. Del Mastro's lawyer Jeff Ayotte said that credibility issues were "difficult to appeal". There may be more drama if Del Mastro continues to sit in Parliament.

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