Mayor calls alleged election fundraising issues 'extremely troubling,' official complaint launched

Calgary's current mayor says the allegations levelled against the campaign for a candidate hoping to replace him are "deeply troubling" if true as the city's election nears. There are accusations that Jeff Davison's mayoral campaign coordinated with a third-party advertiser (TPA) in hosting a golf tournament fundraiser.

An official complaint has now been launched with Elections Alberta against Davison's team.

"These allegations, if true, are extremely troubling," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

"They are a violation of the spirit of the law as well as potentially a violation of the law itself."

Email invites to a golf tournament were sent out earlier this month by a TPA called Calgary Tomorrow. It asked for individuals and companies to sign up for the event and pledge to sponsor the fundraiser. A $10,000 'Title Sponsor' package includes the opportunity to "ask Jeff Davison questions in Q&A at (the) event," while a $5,000 package includes breakfast with Davison on the day of the tournament.

According to the Local Authorities Election Act, campaigns are not allowed to accept money from corporations or unions. TPAs are allowed, the act states, but those groups are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns to accept corporate and union donations on their behalf.

At the bottom of the golf tournament invite, it states that the "Proceeds from the tournament will be used to conduct election advertising in support of Jeff Davison’s run for mayor."

"The reason we'd be concerned about cooperation between a campaign and a third party advertiser is the worry that the campaign is using this as a way to get around the ban on corporate or union contributions," said Lisa Young, a political scientist with the University of Calgary.

"One of the things that worried me is the idea that the third party that was inviting to the golf tournament was offering that, for a $10,000 contribution, you could be the person or the group that's offering the questions of the candidate. That suggested that the candidate was going to be there," Young said.

Davison's campaign did not respond to a request from CTV News for an interview or statement.

'IT'S ABOUT TRUST'

Jan Damery, another mayoral candidate in the upcoming municipal election, filed the complaint to Elections Alberta last week.

"We were seeing on distribution lists that were widely public what appeared to be a violation of campaign rules," Damery said.

"It's about trust, it's about integrity and it's about leadership -- and I'm really questioning the leadership of this campaign and this councillor," she said.

Elections Alberta does not publicly comment on investigations it may or may not be conducting.