17 February 2012

The Joy of Political Giving, By-Elections edition #nlpoli

Official election finance returns for two by-elections in 2010 and 2011 show an interesting pattern of political contributions.

The most interesting tidbit is that the Tories had to pull out all the financial stops to ensure Vaughan Granter won Humber West. The party transferred more than $17,000 to his campaign.

The single largest expense for the campaign was for workers’ travel.  The Granter campaign spent $14,000 paying for campaign workers’ travel. In addition, the Tory party spent another $10,000 of their own on worker travel. In total, the Tory party spent $28,000 on the by-election.

The returns are the by-elections in and Conception Bay East-Bell Island (2010) and Humber West (2011).  The table below  shows the contributions broken down into personal donations and corporate ones.  CBE-BI is on the top and Humber West is on the bottom.


It’s the mismatch between the personal and the corporate that stands out in Conception Bay East-Bell Island.  Tory David Brazil received 43 corporate donations averaging $470 each, but had contributions from only 18 individuals.  

Among the corporate donors to Brazil’s campaign was a numbered Ontario company that apparently operates an Italian restaurant.  1148305 Ontario Inc. (New Hope Properties) also donated to the Ontario Liberal Party in Cambridge Ontario in 2003 and 2007.

Brazil also got donations from OCI and the Pennecon as well as the gang of loyal givers from the Old Man’s old law firm.

Liberal Joy Buckle also had a large number of corporate donors.  The more interesting ones show a connection to the former leader of the Liberal party and the current one.

New Democrat George Murphy was the only one of the three by-election candidates who turned out more personal than corporate donations.  among his big benefactors was wannabe party leader and current MHA for St. John’s North Dale Kirby.

Check what they spent their money on and you can see the huge advantage incumbency gives you.  The Tories raised more than $37,000 compared to about $15,000 for the NDP and slightly more than half that for the Liberals.  But the Tories were able to transfer out of the campaign more money than the Liberals raised in total and almost as much as the NDP spent.

Out on Humber West, the story was different.  Liberal Mark Watton turned up 47 donations from individuals and 11 from corporations.  The geographic origin of Watton’s donors  - across Canada and one from France - attests to his wide personal appeal and connections.

While Watton’s successful Tory opponent netted a large number of corporate donations, a couple of them might be looking for his help these days.  Well, at least four members of the Corner Brook Firefighters Association, newly out of work thanks to Vaughan Granter’s Tory colleagues on the Corner Brook city council.  Maybe the boys can ask Vaughan to intercede on their behalf.  They did give him $500  - via the association - in the by-election.

Their spending and income statements, though are where things get really interesting.  Watton raised way more than Granter.  The Tory party had to transfer $17,000 into Granter’s campaign. Granter only raised $14,600 on his own compared to $25,000 for Watton.

- srbp -