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Third-party advertiser goes undisclosed to Calgarians for six weeks

A third-party advertiser that registered in early May opted against public disclosure while advocating for the Jeff Davison for mayor campaign.

Elections Calgary confirmed that third-party advertiser (TPA) Calgary Tomorrow registered May 3. When they submitted their application, they choose not to allow their information to be published at that time.

Meanwhile, the group produced literature expressly stating money raised from an upcoming event would be used to advertise for Jeff Davison’s run for mayor. A golf tournament at Heritage Pointe on July 29 has been confirmed by LiveWire Calgary as being for the Jeff Davison for Mayor campaign.

Calgary Tomorrow Fundraiser by Darren Krause

Davison announced his intention to leave the Ward 6 race to run for Calgary mayor on May 12.

According to Elections Calgary, they request consent for TPAs to make their registration forms available to the public for inspection. They ask, as they do for candidates, that the name and contact information be made available.

At the time LiveWire Calgary asked, in the most current information consent form, Calgary Tomorrow didn’t allow for the registration forms to be made public. They also didn’t consent to have names or contact information published.

Earlier this week, a new political action committee (PAC, which is interchangeable with TPA) was publicly announced. Outgoing Coun. Shane Keating is one of the members behind that group.

Another recent addition is Lead Calgary. Public information shows William McBeath as a contact for that group. LiveWire Calgary has also talked with Look Forward about their PAC.

Public disclosure changed

After inquiries were made about the lack of public disclosure, a statement from Calgary Tomorrow was provided to LiveWire Calgary.

“We have just registered to have our contact information provided on the City of Calgary Elections site. We expect that information to be posted soon,” the emailed statement read.

Elections Calgary has since confirmed that a request has been made. They expect information to be posted July 22.  

No other details on the delay in disclosure or their advocacy for the Davison for Mayor campaign were provided.

According to the Local Authorities Election Act, a TPA can advocate for any candidate during an election and is allowed to withhold the public information disclosure. They must still abide by other disclosure rules, including financing.

RELATED: Calgary campaign finance – ‘It will be an election of the PACs’

The Davison campaign was contacted Thursday and also provided a statement to LiveWire Calgary.

“We encourage all TPAs to make their contact information available and their affiliations clear,” read a statement from Kelley Charlebois, campaign chair for the Jeff Davison for Mayor campaign.

“As the rules stipulate, it’s not our decision on what any third-party advertiser chooses to do.”

Not sitting right with other candidates

Stephen Carter, strategist for the Jyoti Gondek campaign, said Calgary Tomorrow is disclosing now because they got caught.

“Their choice to make it a private, hidden, third party advertiser is unique. No one else has done that, and they did it because they don’t want public scrutiny,” Carter said.

“They want to exist in the background, and they want to gain as much money and power from old Calgary as they possibly can.”

Carter said they have been talking with TPAs but are not currently supported by one.

Mayoral candidate Jan Damery said the public is concerned about trust and transparency. She believes this erodes public trust.

“At a time when we need people to be working together, particularly just our governments and serving our population, this is just gravely concerning to me,” Damery told LiveWire Calgary.

Damery said they’ve been in conversation with TPAs about support. She wouldn’t rule out that support could come at a later time, but their campaign would be open about the relationship.

Geoff Pradella, campaign manager for Brad Field, said this underscores the need to sweep city hall of the sense of entitlement.

“The lack of transparency is a strategy by the old boys’ network to continue to use their money to exercise quiet and undue influence over the outcome of elections, and thus maintain their favoured position in city decision-making,” Pradella said.

“It is sad – perhaps not surprising, but sad – that the candidate who is most associated with the old boys’ network is pleased to benefit from this lack of transparency.”

The Field campaign is not currently supported by a TPA. They said groups are engaging with them as the campaign moves ahead.  If they do garner TPA support, they would provide full disclosure.

Elections Calgary said complaints around potential contraventions of Part 8 of the Local Elections Authorities Act (Third Party Advertisers) may be made with the Election Commissioner of Alberta.