Thursday, March 24, 2005

Who Said That Money is Not Important??

Quoting from the article:

"When this process is finished if Belinda owes money to the party, she'll write a cheque the same day," said Entwistle.

Isn't it great to have lots of money and being a millionaire?? (....And even better if you are a "billionaire"!!)

Stronach, party fighting
Her campaign owes $350,000, sources say
Conservatives challenging her expense report

March 23, 2005


OTTAWA—Belinda Stronach could be barred from any future Conservative leadership race if a dispute over outstanding fees from last year's race is not resolved, party officials are suggesting.

Although the Conservatives' brass want the party to appear united and yesterday dropped any public complaints about deputy leader Peter MacKay's outburst at the weekend convention, it is clear there are still internal tensions at senior levels.

A senior Conservative party source leaked to the Toronto Star information that Stronach's failed 2004 leadership campaign — which she lost to Stephen Harper — owes about $350,000 in levies to the party, an amount independently confirmed by other sources.

The party and Stronach's campaign are still in negotiations over exactly what amount is owed, Stronach's supporters say. They view the leak as evidence her political opponents fear she still commands a lot of support that could be mobilized if there is a leadership race after a next election.

All three leadership campaigns — Stronach, Harper and Tony Clement — reported to the party they ran the 2004 race within the $2.5-million spending limit set by a rules committee. All expenses are to be released publicly "very soon," said one insider.

The Stronach campaign says it spent about $5 million overall, but fell within the $2.5-million limit because half was "exempt" under the party's rules on spending — items like travel, legal and audit expenses, and some translation and child-care expenses.

In addition, all three candidates had to submit to the party a portion of individual donations to their campaigns. Those levies were set at 10 per cent of donations up to $25,000, and 20 per cent of donations over $25,000.

The Conservative party is challenging Stronach's report, suggesting some of her expenses fell outside those that were "exempt," and demanding she pay more than $350,000 in levies. That overall fee includes an undisclosed amount on her own personal contribution to her leadership campaign.

A spokesman for Stronach said she put in "around $1 million-something" of her own money to finance her bid, but said there is no attempt to hide that. The question is rather how much she should have to pay overall.

Her campaign manager John Laschinger is trying to negotiate just what the final bill for the millionaire former auto parts executive should be.

But a Conservative source suggested Stronach went over the spending limit. The source also said the rules committee can penalize her: either by levying a fine, or seizing the $50,000 compliance deposit required to enter the race.

"She's reported that she complied with the 2.5 (million-dollar limit), but there are outstanding questions whether it was accurate or not."

"Worst-case scenario, the party can declare someone ineligible to run for party leadership in the future."

However, another party source familiar with the rules said future ineligibility is not a penalty available to the party leadership under the rules for the last leadership selection process.

Stronach appeared taken aback by the suggestion, and said "there's some negotiating taking place there as to what is fair.

"I just ask for fairness, that's it," she said.

Stronach adviser Mark Entwistle said Laschinger is negotiating for Stronach "to be treated fairly," meaning all three leadership candidates should be required "to pay the same levy on their own personal contributions to their own campaigns."

He said the Harper and Clement campaigns also held "discussions on their reports" to the party, and whether certain levies and claims for exemption were appropriate.

"The big difference is — and no one is hiding this — Belinda put in a very significant amount of her own money." The party may choose to consider the other candidates did not have the same means as she did, and may levy different taxes on the candidates as a result, he said.

"When this process is finished if Belinda owes money to the party, she'll write a cheque the same day," said Entwistle.

© Toronto Star 2005


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