30 April 2009

Tory-gate hits 30K mark

There’s at least $30,000 of public money for Tory party work in the Ed Byrne statement of facts, according to the official opposition. 

They popped out a news release yesterday that included a table of other PC party spending in the Byrne fraud and bribery conviction case.  The local media haven’t touched this angle of the story at all, oddly enough.

This money isn’t covered by the restitution order, contrary to the claim of former PC Party president – and current deputy Premier – Kathy Dunderdale.  She told the legislature her party was prepared to pay the money back (she meant the 3K from St. Barbe) but decided against it because Byrne had been ordered to pay it back.

Makes you wonder who gave Dunderdale and her colleagues the really bad advice.  Anyone who read the decision by Judge Mark Pike would have known the difference. It’s pretty obvious.

Of course, the Byrne agreed statement only covers a portion of the total.  According to the agreed statement, Byrne received a total of $501,507 in constituency allowance payments with the bulk of it coming in FY 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Byrne only copped to paying back $117,300 which, according to the statement, seems to be what he took for himself. The rest is pretty much a black hole.  The public has no idea where their money went. 

All the Tory party spending  detailed below  isn’t in the restitution order.  No one knows how much more there is since the government and the chief electoral officer  - himself a former president of the Tory Party - are refusing to investigate.

Tory Trevor Taylor, elected in the other by-election in January 2001, called the whole sordid mess in the House dating back to 2000 “dirt and filth”,  a“serious stain on the political face of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

He’s absolutely right, of course.

But then Taylor voted against an investigation into the large chunks of the mess that haven’t been looked at by the police and that will likely keep going unexplored as long as Taylor and his colleagues have their way.

And it’s not like Taylor is unaware of the legal niceties of all this.  Get a load of his comments about the $30K:

The only piece that is within the purview of the Chief Electoral Officer, as far as I know, is the $3,000 that was spent on the St. Barbe campaign in the by-election of 2001. That is the only thing that he has authority to look at. He has no authority to go and look at how some funds may or may not have been sourced from constituency allowance and then utilized to conduct research for the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is where the RNC came in. That is where the courts came in. That is where the Auditor General came in. That is who has responsibility for that. [Emphasis added]

Somebody has been doing their research into reasons why not to go looking, evidently.

At the end of it all, the most apt description of what’s been happening with Tory-gate came, ironically enough from Ross Wiseman.  The guy who got elected as a Liberal and then crossed the floor said this:

I am not supporting this motion because it reeks of cheap politics. It is partisan politics of its worst.

He’s right but not in the way he seems to have intended.  The sordid mess began as partisan politics at its worst, continued as partisan politics at its worst – as the Byrne case now makes plain, stayed the course of cheap partisan politics in June 2006 and now remains exactly where it has been:  in the political gutter.

Wiseman, Taylor and their 34 colleagues ensured that by continuing to oppose an investigation that would root out all the rot, no matter what party it was in.


-  Gus Coombs received a payment of approximately $2,000 from Edward Byrne for an expense he incurred while running as a candidate in the 1999 Provincial Election


Page 10, paragraph 31

-  A cheque was located showing that Gus Coombs receive a cheque for $3,600.


Page 10, paragraph 32

-  Wayne Clark stated that around that time in 2001, he was assisting in running a byelection campaign for Wally Young in the district of St. Barbe. Wayne Clark stated that, at that time, he did receive a payment for his services and expenses and it would have been for approximately $3,000.


Page 11, paragraph 35

-  Charles White stated that they billed the PC Party $10,000 and they received two payments in the form of personal cheques from Edward Byrne. One payment was for $4,000 and one payment of $5,000 and they wrote off the remaining $1,000.


Page 11, paragraph 42

-  Gina Steele had worked as a receptionist in the PC Party Office.

She stated that she had received a personal cheque of $1500 from Edward Byrne around the fall of 2000. She stated that Edward Byrne had given her the cheque because he felt bad about her being let go from her job around September 2000.


Page 12-13, paragraph 46

-  Vernon Smith stated he did some work for Edward Byrne and the PC Party around December of 1999. Vernon Smith stated he believed he was paid about $4,000 for this work. Vernon Smith was shown a copy of a personal cheque of Edward Byrne dated December 22, 1999, in the amount of $4,025 which was made payable to him. Vernon Smith acknowledged that

He received this cheque and that it was his signature on the back of the cheque.


Page 13-14, paragraph 51

-  Noella Hynes acknowledged being given $1,500 by Edward Byrne. Noella Hynes stated that she had been promised a job by Edward Byrne so she quit the job that she had been working at, only to find out that there was no job with the PC Party. She said that Edward Byrne gave her $1,500 to help her out until she got another job.


Page 14, paragraph 14

-  Derek Connolly stated he did work for Edward Byrne and the PC Party, but he had been paid by Government issued cheques. Derek

Connolly acknowledged he did receive a personal cheque from Edward Byrne for $1,200, but could not remember for what purpose.


Page 14, paragraph 61

-  Supporting documents attached to a claim was an invoice in the amount of $3,944.21 from Canadian Helicopters. The invoice was dated January 10, 2001, and the flight date was January 3, 2001.

(this trip would have been for organizing by-elections on the Northern Peninsula)


Page  17, paragraph 73

Total: $29,769.21