Showing posts with label Guelph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guelph. Show all posts

Thursday, June 05, 2014

RoboCon CREEPshow trial of Michael Sona

At left is the draft statement robocall trial star witness and Guelph Con campaign worker Andrew Prescott sent to the accused, Michael Sona, in July 2013.
Read it first.  Really.

Three freaking years later and three days into the CREEPshow trial charging Michael Sona with sending robocalls out to more than 6,000 Guelph voters in the May 2, 2011 federal election directing them to the wrong poll locations, a couple of new things stand out.

It was indeed Andrew Prescott who logged out of his own account at RackNine on election day only to log back in again a few minutes later on the Pierre Jones/Poutine account. He did so on the instructions of Guelph election campaign chair Ken Morgan who gave him a handwitten note with the Poutine credentials. 

So Prescott was Poutine for Morgan in this instance of its use at least. However Prescott has an immunity deal with the Crown to testify against Sona and says he didn't know the significance of the alternate log-in until Sona mentioned "Pierre" later in the day in a toast that Prescott didn't remember until April 2014! 

So why isn't Guelph campaign chair Ken Morgan on trial here? Other than that he decamped to Kuwait in 2012 of course and has never been questioned by Elections Canada afawk. I guess it's a case of love the one you're with here. 

From the robocalls trial twitterfeed of Glen McGregor, Stephen Maher, Globals' Laura Stone, and Laura Payton at CBC. Excerpted  : 
  • Prescott says he was in Burke campaign office until the early hours, until sun up, on May 2 (e-day)
  • Sona was in his cubicle on that early morning of election day, Prescott says.
  • Prescott says Sona asked him about how to log into RackNine after 4:00 am on election day. "I was suspicious," he said [but he complied].
  • In February interviews with Elections Canada, Prescott couldn't recall Sona asking about RackNine.
Wait.  If, as per Matt Meier's testimony, the Pierre Poutine account on RackNine was set up on April 30, and if as Prescott is implying - Sona is Poutine, why would Sona be asking Prescott the following morning how to log in to RackNine?
  • When sun came up, Prescott says he slept on the couch in the office for a few hours.
  • Sona came out of office: "was shaking, ecstatic, and said in a low voice, 'It's working,'" Prescott says. Sona was "quiet, almost euphoric"
  • Later, as they heard [from their own supporters telling of calls saying that polling stations were closing early], Ken Morgan came up to Prescott and said "We need to counter this. They're bombing our supporters."
  • Then Morgan approached Prescott later day and said "I need you to stop the dial"
  • Morgan approached Prescott's desk; Prescott went to RackNine website and found he was logged in.
  • "I went to pending calls page and noticed there was a pending dial to go out and I immediately cancelled it," Prescott says.
After the election day vote count, Prescott :
  • People were having drinks and cigars, toasting Harper, "MIchael [Sona] had a cigar in his hand and said something like thanks, Pierre, and laughed" 
Interesting because their Guelph campaign had just lost the election so the thanks to "Pierre" would have been about bogus calls made to voters in 200 other ridings that Elections Canada has since completely lost any further interest in.
Also, Prescott says he did not *remember* Sona toasting "Pierre" until April 2014!

Also new and newish :
In Nov. 2011, RackNine CEO Matt Meier gave Prescott a heads up that Elections Canada Al Mathews was looking at Prescott's calls re fake polling station info before Mathews contacted Prescott the same month.
In March 2012, Meier discovered the Poutine IP info and passed it on to EC Al Mathews; he also copied the same data to Con headquarters.  
Prescott's memory of events three years ago has improved a lot over the telling :"The more I thought about it the better my recollections," Prescott said.
Given the appalling quality of his self-absolving testimony, you have to wonder why Prescott was granted immunity. Possibly CPC did not much care for his statement about Nixon dirty tricks (see pic).

Con layer Arthur Hamilton's four pet Hill staffers/interns also testified that Sona bragged to them afterwards about being Poutine and masterminding the whole shebang. Aside from the odd dramatic account of sign-stealing car chases, their accounts contributed nothing that wasn't already public knowledge from the media over the last three years. All very *mostly* lone wolf tv bad boy.

And it's a wrap. Sona not testifying, nor key players Ken Morgan, out of the country; Arthur Hamilton, instumental in setting up the case against Sona; and the frequently mentioned Jenni Byrne, who restricted EC access to witnesses, etc etc.

Pic at top via Laura Stone at Global is "draft statement Prescott read in court when he thought he wouldn't be able to attend CPC convention" because his name was connected to Poutine robocalls .
Note reference to Nixon's CREEP* and "widespread, national, well-organized scheme" and "not the work of any lone staffer". Prescott clarified yesterday his statement refers to national scheme, not Guelph.

OK then.

*CREEP : Richard Nixon's Committee for the Re- Election of the President, of Watergate fame

Thursday, January 23, 2014

RoboCon Pop Quiz : Spot the Difference!

Thwap asks a very good question :

What exactly is the difference between 

1. Elections Canada and federal prosecutors granting immunity to Con deputy campaign manager Andrew Prescott this month in the 2011 Guelph robocall election fraud case, and

2. Elections Canada refusing to grant immunity to a group of donors willing to testify about giving $1,000 each to Dean Del Mastro’s campaign, allegedly in return for receiving $1050 back from Del Mastro's cousin.

July 2012 : Elections Canada refuses immunity request for donors to Dean Del Mastro
"Elections Canada has rebuffed an offer of information about an alleged reimbursement scheme involving Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign, saying it doesn’t have the authority to give witnesses immunity from prosecution.
Elections Canada spokesman John Enright said Tuesday that the commissioner is not able to grant immunity... it can only investigate allegations of electoral misconduct and that the power to offer immunity rests with federal prosecutors."
although Toronto elections lawyer Jack Siegel says : 
"the commissioner can negotiate compliance agreements with people who have violated the act, which allows the office to effectively offer immunity from prosecution."

"A key player in the 2011 Guelph robocalls scandal is getting immunity from prosecution in the Elections Canada investigation into misleading calls in the last federal election, CBC News has learned.Prescott has a written guarantee "the Crown has no intention" of charging him in connection with the misleading phone calls."

So what's the difference? 
Aside of course from the fact Del Mastro was Steve's parliamentary secretary, election fraud pointman, and key spokesy in the House at the time, while Prescott's Con candidate Marty Burke didn't win his seat anyway and the Guelph case appears to be hermetically sealed off from the election fraud that occurred in over 200 other ridings. 

Admittedly Del Mastro is now being charged by Elections Canada in a separate investigation for overspending his 2008 campaign limit and trying to cover it up, and they are continuing their investigation into the 22 people who were issued cheques for $1,050 from Deltro, owned by Dean's cousin.

But Thwap's question remains : What exactly is Election Canada's criteria for involving Crown prosecutors in securing immunity for witnesses? Especially given it seems highly unlikely Prescott was granted immunity just to roll over on Sona in the case against him provided by Con Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton. 

If Sona goes down, the Cons will draw a line through it and say it's done : One rogue lone gun on the grassy Guelph knoll that didn't change the election results in a single riding in the 2011 election anyway.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's a small small small Con world

Top Conservative party operative says she didn’t know of plan to cover Duffy expense tab, reads the headline. 

Nor did she speak to Nigel Wright or Senator Gerstein about it apparently.

That top party op is Pierre Poilievre's ex, Jenni Byrne - Conservative Party director of political operations, national Con campaign director during the 2011 election, and Steve's once and perhaps future director of issues management in the PMO.

But then when you read the article, it turns out to be the Con Party spokesy Fred DeLorey answering all the reporter's questions on Byrne's behalf by email. Nothing directly from Byrne and no follow-up questions.

Mr. DeLorey, you may recall, also initially denied that the Cons were behind the January robocall pushpoll in Saskatchewan regarding electoral riding redistricting, while Poilievre, who once founded a robocall company of his own, said they were done by Chase Research. Eventually Chase Research was outed for having done the calls on behalf of the Cons as an affiliate of RackNine, the company used by Pierre Poutine to make the election fraud robocalls in Guelph.

For her part, Jenni Byrne denied the Cons had anything to do with the Guelph robocall election fraud, issuing an email to say that the Cons ran "a clean and ethical campaign", notwithstanding they had to fire Patrick Muttart from their election war room after he sent Jenni Byrne's close friend SunNews CEO Kory Teneycke that bogus Iggy war photo.

But back to the article. 
Commenters below it point out the obvious - the unlikelihood of the Con Party director of political operations knowing nothing about a PMO/Con Party plan to bribe a sitting senator causing them headaches for his silence. 
Three comments are the angry rebuttals of one commenter, William Donaldson.  
While he has every right to his defence of Ms Byrne, is this the same Bill Donaldson who was Pierre Poilievre's first campaign manager and Nepean-Carleton EDA president back in 2006 under Manager of Political Operations for Ontario, Jenni Byrne? [fourth link down marked DOC]

It's a small small small Con world. 
Pull on any Duffy/Senate/election fraud thread and the same names come up over and over again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

RoboCon : Michael Sona and Sun News Network

Former Guelph Con Party communications director Michael Sona relates how he was sitting in his Hill office on Feb. 23 2012 when he was shocked to hear Sun News reporter Brian Lilley fingering him on air for the Guelph robocalls election fraud. Sona  : 

 "I contacted a few people at [Con] headquarters and I just said I wanna know what's going on. Like why am I being thrown out here because Sun News is you know kind of an alternate method of getting press releases and other stories out from the party, right? I mean everyone knows that, right? It's just a standard comm's tactic. And I knew if this is on Sun News, this isn't just some you know hack journalist picking up some story that he's fabricated in his head. This is someone. Someone is feeding him this."

Sona eventually hears back from Con Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton who tells him not to worry about anonymous sources.

Excerpted from that 2012 Sun News broadcast with Brian Lilley :
"The Conservatives have someone identified already on who they think this could be. ... We've been talking to sources here for the Ottawa bureau for Sun News Network and they're pointing towards on individual in particular. His name is Michael Sona. ... We're waiting on an official statement on this but sources are saying at this point it appears it is this one individual, a Michael Sona, who has associations with the campaign, may have worked on a local campaign, but he's not, was not with the national Conservative campaign. So then it becomes a question of was this a directive from the top, was this someone acting on their own locally to try and help their candidate win? ... "
Lilley says Con lawyer Arthur Hamilton is already on it - praises him as a "no-nonsense guy"
"But it does look at this point that it was Michael Sona who was behind this ...."
A statement is then read out from Steve's political director Jenni Byrne denying Con Party headquarters involvement. Back to Lilley :
"Sources say that it does look like it was Michael Sona who was behind this but no confirmation for sure, no charges laid at this point and we'll wait and see what Mr. Sona himself has to say. We'll be reaching out to him today of course as well."
After the broadcast and a phone call from Jenni Byrne, Con MP Eve Adams asked Sona to hand in his resignation.

DefMin Peter MacKay answering a question on the Guelph robocalls three days later :
"I think they've identified the individual that was involved in this ... and that individual is no longer in the employment of the party."
Eye-bleach graffic above inspired by the cover of Brian Lilley's popular runaway! runaway! bestcellar book CBC Exposed  which accuses the CBC of being the state broadcaster : 
"This book takes on the holy grail of the Canadian media landscape and lays bare the truth about CBC. Reckless reporting at the state broadcaster has ruined lives ...
"Ruined lives" indeed. Michael Sona, forced to resign his job on the Hill the day of that Sun News broadcast, is still waiting for resolution a year later.

Big City Lib blogged on Thursday that Harpercrat Action Plan ads appear to account "for well over half of the adverts on the Sun TV website."  
"Does this amount to a government subsidy...the Harper Gov. throwing money to a message friendly news service?  And if so, does that make Sun TV Canada's REAL state broadcaster?"
Certainly the Conservative Party seems to think so. 
Just before the last federal election, Patrick Muttart, Harper's former deputy chief of staff and chief marketing strategist for the Conservative Party of Canada, forwarded what appeared to be a photo of Michael Ignatieff in Kuwait in US battle fatigues on to former Harper spokesy now founder and VP of Sun News Kory Teneycke - presumably for election news publication. Teneycke caught it in time.
Muttart, who had moved to the Canada/ US practice of a US marketing firm, told reporters that at the time, he was both an unpaid advisor to Sun News to launch their TV network and "on the Con payroll as a consultant to the party's election war room."

CBC is the national public broadcaster. Sun News Network, as Michael Sona puts it, is an alternate method of getting stories out from the party.

Michael Sona's video interview with McMaher on Friday , btw, well worth a full listen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RoboCon : Poutine made easy

Text : Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher
Presentation : Robert Cross
Ottawa Citizen

This excellent interactive visual has been around for a while but with 6 other ridings in court this week challenging election fraud, perhaps we could use a refresher on just how devious was the trail of deception from the diabolical Mr Poutine in Guelph. [h/t Toe at Bread 'n Roses]

Not mentioned in it is how undetermined staffers from the Con election campaign in Guelph came to share a Racknine browser session with Mr. Poutine at 2am on Election Day.

McMaher's liveblog of the day's proceedings here.

A couple of today's notable discrepancies ...

When Election Canada sent alarums about bogus phone calls re polling station changes to Con lawyer Arthur Hamilton 3 days before the election, Hamilton emailed in reply :
"A number of our candidates" have had to confirm polling station …"
 But it was actually RMG who made those calls on behalf of Con Party central.

Hamilton also stated today that Elections Canada never advised parties not to phone electors about polling station changes, however EC's May2 Election website states :
In response to an initial request from a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, the preliminary list of all election day polls was sent to all parties. Because a polling site can be replaced by another at the last minute, and to ensure that electors always have access to the most accurate information regarding their location, Elections Canada indicated to political parties that the list supplied should only be used for internal purposes and that parties should not direct electors to polling sites. Political parties were invited to refer electors to the Elections Canada Web site, their local Elections Canada office or their voter information card for locations, to prevent electors from being directed to incorrect polling sites. Some political parties did not comply with this request.
As noted at Saskboy's in comments, it seems more than a little odd that longtime Con Party  lawyer Arthur Hamilton is part of the case as well as the Cons' lawyer on the case.

Friday, May 04, 2012

RoboCon : Cross-border election shopping

A Republican operative convicted of perpetrating election phone fraud for the Republican National Committee told interviewer Stephen Maher that "fraudulent calls in the last Canadian election are likely an American import" and a "fairly sophisticated operation".

Allen Raymond wrote a book about his stint as a GOP dirty trickster called How to Rig an Election in which he explains the use of tactics like phone jamming political opponents - hey, did Elections Canada ever investigate the over 10,000 phone jamming calls used to disrupt the NDP's online leadership vote this year ? - as well as harassment live calls intended to discourage opponents from voting at all. 

Raymond says he was approached for the illegal phone work by an RNC field director he knew called Jim Tobin, a regional chairman of George Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
The RNC spent years and millions of dollars defending Tobin through umpteen court cases and appeals to choke off the flow of election fraud charges at just Raymond. When Raymond realized he was going under the bus alone, he talked.

Today the Ottawa Citizen and the G&M both report Elections Canada has confirmed 'Pierre Poutine' launched his fraudulent robocalls from the Guelph Con campaign election office.
Stephen Maher explains on CTV here.

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