Jeff Davison said that transparency matters to voters and to him as a candidate.
While releasing his donor list on Thursday (Sept. 2) the mayoral candidate called on others to do the same.
“All serious candidates should be releasing their donors list,” he said.
“The fact is every name must be released at the end of the election cycle. I just prefer to tell you who’s supporting me before the election, not after it,” said Davison.
The list, which can be viewed on his website, shows the names of 226 donors, but doesn’t show exact donation numbers. It only shows 1-$1000, or $2501 to $5000.
It contains the names of known provincial and federal liberals and conservatives and UCP members, but it also contains the names of people who’ve never declared for a party before or have never participated in a campaign until now, Davison said.
According to Davison, candidates not releasing their lists has clouded the campaign. He believes it’s created a culture that will harm the election and the democratic process.
“The only reason candidates are waiting to release their list is because they’re afraid they’re going to lose votes based on who was actually given the money,” said Davison.
“What it’s done is created a culture of secrecy and elections that doesn’t best serve Calgarians, and it’s a culture that I’m committed to changing.”
Davison called himself a “harsh critic” of third-party advertisers. (TPAs)
Despite this, his mayoral campaign previously faced public scrutiny after LiveWire Calgary was first to reveal the connection to Calgary Tomorrow.
That group is a registered TPA and until inquiries were made, they opted to stay undisclosed to the public. Calgary Tomorrow is now publicly disclosed on the Elections Calgary website.
Now, Davison is calling on all TPAs to disclose who they’re supporting.
“Third-party advertisers should reveal which candidates they’re supporting or, more importantly, which ones they’re working actively against,” said Davison.
“I would strongly encourage all TPAs to reveal their donors, list them now, as well, not after the election.”
Business as usual
Aside from Davison, other mayoral candidates have also released their donor list. That list includes candidate Jyoti Gondek. Gondek was under fire in August after she didn’t respond to a Reddit AMA question on financial disclosure.
Later, campaign manager Stephen Carter said some donors had already been harassed by other campaigns and they didn’t want to have that happen to others. That sentiment has changed.
“Jyoti wanted it released, so we released it,” said Carter told LiveWire Calgary on Thursday.
“It’s just doing the things that need to be done. Why would we draw attention to it and make it into a big campaign issue when it’s just the normal course of doing business in our mind.”
They have 580 donors on their list but have only released names and not donor amounts. There are duplicates on their list, but Carter said that was to show that some Calgarians are donating multiple times (while still under the limit.)
Jan Damery led the charge early on by publishing her donor list from the launch of her campaign. Brad Field had also issued a challenge earlier in the campaign for candidates to disclose donors. He updated his list as of August. 18.
Jeromy Farkas has also released his donor list, up to Aug. 31.
Farkas said that it’s “laughable” that Davison would talk about transparency and third-party advertisers, with complaints made about his connection to Calgary Tomorrow.
“How can you be critical of third-party advertisers when you give him the blessing of one to go off and buy advertising on your behalf?” Farkas said.
“It just, it makes zero sense. And I just find the whole situation is laughable.”
- with files from Darren Krause