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Data: Third Party Advertiser donors go unnamed despite large election donations

Calgarians won’t know individual donors who contributed to the more than $2 million contributed to Third Party Advertisers in Calgary’s 2021 municipal election.

After a Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) submission by LiveWire Calgary, that was delayed twice asking for extensions, the information was provided on donor amounts, but with names redacted.

Elections Calgary said, in a statement to LWC, that under the Local Authorities Election Act they don’t have the authority to provide routine public access to TPA disclosure statements.

Access to this requires a FOIP request, they said.

“The disclosure statements may contain personal information, including the personal information of another party such as a contributor,” read a city statement.

“The information access request process under FOIP ensures The City undertakes its due diligence when considering release of information contained in disclosure statements.”

The city’s FOIP office said they requested consent from TPAs to provide the information.

“The City was advised by the TPAs that their individual contributors were not advised their information could be publicly disclosed,” read a statement from the City’s Access and Privacy office.

“As such, third party, personal, and business information was redacted (as per sections 16 and 17 of the FOIP Act).”

LWC’s Aryn Toombs broke down the data further.

Contributions made to third party advertisers

The levels of contributions to Third Party Advertisers for the 2021 election ranged from a low of $625 to $1.7 million.

Calgarians for a Progressive Future and Calgary Tomorrow both took top spots for contributions made. The former taking the entirety of their contributions prior to the province’s Bill 29 changes to the Local Authorities Election Act, and Calgary Tomorrow after.

Fluoride Yes was the only Third Party Advertiser to solely focus on a municipal ballot issue as opposed to working towards electing individual candidates. Alberta Proud, which in addition to working to get mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas elected, also advertised for their position on the equalization ballot question.

All together there was $2,271,947 contributed to the eight TPAs. This was about half the amount of the total of $4,229,787 disclosed by candidates as contributions made to the mayoral and ward races in 2021.

Those donors are named in candidate campaign disclosures.

Ward by Ward campaign finance information – by LWC.

Breakdown of donations by TPA

Unlike for individual candidate campaigns, TPAs had no limit on the size or number of contributions that could be made by individuals, organizations, and businesses. Of the TPAs that had contributions of more than $250, only two maxed out at the same limit as the municipal candidates—Fluoride Yes and Lead Calgary.

ABC Ward 12 YYC did not have any contributions over $250.

Alberta Proud disclosed six donations. Two for $10,000, and four for $5,000. All of the donations were redacted under section 16(1) of the FOIP act.

The Calgary Tomorrow TPA had a number of large value contributions made to it. Four contributions of $20,000 were made to the group, alongside two $15,000, six $10,000, four $7,500, and 18 $5,000 contributions. A total of 93 additional contributions were made between $280 and $4,500.

Contributions were redacted under sections 16(1) and 17(1) of the FOIP act.

Fluoride Yes disclosed 327 contributions made to their campaign. A total of 21 contributions were made over the $250 mandatory individual contribution disclosure threshold. Of those, there were single $5,000, $4,000, and $2,500 contributions made. Two $2,000, four $1,000, and five $500 made. The remainder were single contributions between $300 and $1,600.

Contributions were redacted under sections 16(1) and 17(1) of the FOIP act. The names of contributors were disclosed by Fluoride Yes prior to the election by ranges that included $10 to $249, $250 to $999, and $1000 to $6000. A September 7, 2021 press release linked contributor values to names for contributions prior to that date.

Lead Calgary had single contributions of $5,000, $4,000, $2,500, and $1,000. Contributions were redacted under section 16(1) of the FOIP act.

The Look Forward Society for Political Action of Alberta had a single $10,000 contribution, a single $5,000, two $1,500, two $1,000, and a single $500 contribution.

Contributions were redacted under sections 16(1) and 17(1) of the FOIP act.

The Responsible Representation Political Action Committee had a single $7,000 contribution, two $5,000, $1505.30 and $1,5000 contributions, a single $1,881.70, and two $940.70 contributions.

Contributions were redacted under sections 16(1) and 17(1) of the FOIP act.

Labour and union donations made prior to Bill 29

Calgarians for a Progressive Future were the only TPA to have contributions made before the passing of Bill 29, the only TPA to have contributions over $20,000, and was also the only TPA to fully disclose who made those contributions.

All of these contributions were disclosed voluntarily prior to the 2021 municipal election.

CUPE 38 made $716,976 and $358,488 contributions. ATU 538 made a $312,500 contribution. CUPE 37 made a $275,000 and a $37,500 contribution. And CDLC made a single $1,000 contribution.

Who were the contributions from?

Only Calgarians for a Progressive Future had their contributors revealed within their TPA disclosure document. Among those were the Amalgamated Transit Union 538, Canadian Union of Public Employees locals 37 and 38, and the Calgary and District Labour Council.

Unlike donations made to candidates, contributors to all other Third Party Advertisers were redacted under sections 16 and 17 of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. However, the use of both sections implies that there were a mix of both personal donations, and organization or corporate donations made to the TPAs.

Three of the TPAs voluntarily disclosed the municipal locations where donations were made. And four did not. Overwhelmingly for these TPAs, the contributions made were from Calgary.

Calgarians for a Progressive Future exclusively took contributions from labour organizations and unions within Calgary.

Calgary Tomorrow, which ran in order to elect mayoral candidate Jeff Davison, took 7 per cent of their total disclosed contributed dollars from local communities surrounding Calgary.

And the Flouride Yes campaign effectively took 100 per cent of their donations from people living in Calgary, with a total of $175 out of $46,140 coming from Canmore, Cochrane, Hinton, and Okotoks.