Friday, February 24, 2012

Robo-calling an election fraud

In writing about the Cons' dirty tricks robocall election fraud, John Ibbitson muses whether the Cons might just bear some "measure of responsibility" for creating a political climate in which their "rogue" campaign managers impersonate Election Canada officials on Election Day in order to send voters off to the wrong or non-existing polling stations to vote.

OK, let's look at just one such riding where things went rogue.

During the last election, Kitchener-Waterloo voters reported being phoned on Election Day and told their polling station had been changed to another location. Complete bs, of course, and the calls were traced to a Conservative Party phone number.

K-W is represented by Con MP Peter Braid. In 2008 he won the riding by just 17 votes.
His campaign manager Aaron Wudrick also works for Campaign Research Inc - this Campaign Research Inc. Braid paid the company "$19,210 to do automated dialing and voter identification" (h/t cultureguru) and hired one of their CEOs to be his Election Day Chair.  

Two years prior to this, Braid, Wudrick, another Campaign Research founder named Richard Ciano ***(previously VP of the federal Conservatives and now running for presidency president of the Ontario Con Party), and the 9th VP of the Ontario Con Party, Ryan O'Connor, were all off at a workshop hosted by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association and the Preston Manning's Manning Centre for Building Democracy ...  ** Correction

And this is where things got just a tad ... roguey

Transcript via WikiLeaks audio. Yes I'm pillaging a previous post here :
37:10) Aaron Lee-Wudrick : I say we, because, even though [Ryan O'Connor] was the forced neutral [as Student President] and me as the Tory president, it was all orchestrated obviously behind closed doors, and it actually worked out well because it looked like different groups of stakeholders, like I'm the outsider coming in, and you guys were just the responsible student government and we had other members of council, a guy he appointed to council, he got speaking rights but he wasn't an elected member, but just as another voice at the table, it made it look like there were all kinds of different corners where in fact we were all on the same team. 
(42:14) Aaron Lee-Wudrick : Campus Radicals for Action on Zimbabwe Yes, or something like that, they were a great shell group. Feel free to use Campus Coalition for Liberty, that's ours so we have a logo and everything. 
(50:05) Ryan O'Connor : When Aaron was doing the petition campaign, which "I knew nothing about;" I was printing them in my frickin office in student government, of course I knew about it, of course we were behind it, I couldn't take a public position on that issue because although I wasn't running for reelection, this was three months before the end of my mandate ... if we had made them an issue, no Tory would ever get elected to student government again.  
Ryan O'Connor : Sometimes you can't attach the party's name to something. You just can't. If it's a really controversial issue on campus or something that might show up in the newspaper, you want to be careful. You just have your shell organization and have the Campus Coalition for Liberty and two other Tory front groups which are front organizations, all of those groups might actually qualify for funding too. 
Aaron Lee-Wudrick : Don't think that the Party doesn't like that, because they do. They're things that will help the Party, but it looks like it's an organically-grown organization and it just stimulated from the grassroots spontaneously. They love that stuff. And they don't have to bear the burden of having any of it attached to their name."
Ok, that lays out the "measure of responsibility" relationship pretty clearly, and here's Steve yesterday to verify it :
"In this case, our party has no knowledge of these calls. It’s not part of our campaign.”
Number of  ridings in the last election allegedly hit by fraudulent robocall campaigns so far : 27
Number of ridings giving Steve his majority : 14  12
Friday Night Update : Elections Canada has dropped their investigation into Waterloo.
"Inaccuracies can occur," said Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews.
But Glen Mcgregor and Stephen Maher are still on it :
More than a dozen ridings blitzed by harassing fake Liberal phone calls in 2011 election.
*** Link defunct. Richard Ciano appears to have been expunged from the Campaign Research website.


Toe said...

I don't know why, but I whenever I think about Stevie's words yest. I always think he said "I'm not part of our campaign".

Good stuff Alison, thanks for staying up of this. Must not be allowed to go away. :)

RossK said...

Excellent point Alison.

And then there is this matter of this army of little Donnie Segrettis that they have sent out across the land to poison pretty much everything...

Anonymous said...

The lie is there just waiting to be found...

If the Conservative Party or any of their sub-organizations paid for the calls...

One would have to construe that they were responsible...


pogge said...

Minor point: Richard Ciano won that race and is now the president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. And as I just posted, Michael Sona, who was reported yesterday as being the (sole) target of a CPC internal investigation, was just fired from his position as assistant to CPC staffer Eve Adams.

pogge said...

Okay, that last reference should have been to CPC MP Eve Adams

Saskboy said...

Is the May 30th email from Curt to Robin evidence of the National campaign doing the illegal robocalls? Someone would have to find out what call recording was paid for in "swing ridings", and which ridings, etc.

Kim said...

Gary Lunn's campaign against Briony Penn...

Anonymous said...

Harper also campaigned on election, over a Calgary radio station.

Harper also had a criminal Bruce Carson from the U.S. working for him. Harper didn't know anything about that either.

Harper needs to be forced to resign. He should be tried for treason, for giving Canada to China. Fadden of CSIS warned about China's encroachment into Canada. Well, now our worst nightmares are coming true.

Anonymous said...


You were probably right the first time.

Are these CPC MPs truly Members of Parliament? Do they engage in debate, do they hold the government to account financially, do they work for their constituents? Or are they just another class of staffers serving the Conservative Party, voting as they're told, etc?

Alison said...

Anon : Hey Gloria, is that you? If so, thanks for your restraint. ;-)

Hi Kim, I've forgotten - is Saanich your riding? It's just across the water from me. Good article. We have not forgotten those robocall frauds here.

Saskboy : Well, robocalling in itself is not illegal. Would have to be tied to robocallers impersonating Elections Canada officials - which is. Or am I missing your point?

Thanks for your correction, Pogge.
When SunTV magically produced a perp Glen Mcgregor and Stephen Maher's months of research failed to uncover, I thought I'd remind people how this stuff works before attention to it followed Sona's ass right out the door.

Bemused : Federal Elections Commissioner not too friggin interested in doing that, it would seem. See last two paras.

RossK : I'd forgotten your past posts on the Sona/Segrettis. Thanks.
Why are Cons not held responsible for the people they hire to mind their MPs? That's what I wanna know. You watch staffers jumping in to answer press questions directed at MPs, ministers, and then shuffling them off down the hall before they can screw it up.

Toe : Well he isn't, is he? ;-)

Alison said...

2nd Anon@3:49 : Getting more difficult to tell Steve's 1700 com staffers from the MPs, isn't it? Except that staffers can be conveniently fired but not called before committee to account.

RossK said...


More on the junior Segrettis comin'....


Saskboy said...

I meant I hope EC can find the incidents of illegal robocalling in the CPC invoices they paid. Paying for illegal calls would suggest a problem to me. That one email seemed to suggest robocalling that the local campaign had not signed off on, and could have potentially been a reference to the call recorded by the burner cell phone.

the regina mom said...

So, Alison, a point of information only. I searched "Aaron Lee-Wudrick", "Ryan O'Connor" and "Michael Sona" and discovered they were all in some way involved in the "PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF ONTARIO HALIBURTON - KAWARTHA LAKES - BROCK BY-ELECTION." The document says they received small payments.

Alison said...

TRM : I think that doc actually shows campaign contributions to John Tory's failed 2009 by-election.

Saskboy : Yes, of course, I see what you're saying. Wonder what was on that redacted page, and, um, Calgary SW is a "swing EDA"?

Ross : Looking forward to it!

Beijing York said...

I hope this is not a double post.

Anyway, Campaign Research Inc. seems to have a relationship with RackNine, the company identified as placing the robocalls.

Alison said...

Did they, BY? I'm not aware of that. Got a link?

I see RackNine CEO Matt Meier hearts Voter Contact Manager at Ontario CP Party though.

Beijing York said...

The non-partisan stuff is bullshit but I do buy the fact that they are basically providing the platform to deliver the messages. Some other firm provided the GOTV strategy, including the scripts used.

When Kady O'Malley revealed who paid what to RackNine, she traced a small amount (less than $200) directly to Harper, itemized as GOTV campaign.

"According to invoices submitted to Elections Canada posted by the NDP research office, there were also several payments to RackNine that do not show up in the list of direct campaign expenses:

Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest)
May 4, 2011 - $117.75 (GOTV campaign)

Lavar Payne (Medicine Hat)
May 4, 2011 - $26.01 .

According to the correspondence that the Harper campaign included with this invoice, this was related to a final GOTV phone blitz in "swing" ridings the weekend before the election. It appears that RackNine initially billed the full cost, which remains unknown, to the Conservative Party of Canada, which passed the cost onto participating campaigns -- including, in this case, that of the party leader."

That amount of money wouldn't even cover the costs of providing coffee and donuts for one meeting - a last minute phone blitz would cost thousands of dollars.

Alison said...

BY : Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews' Robocall Search Warrants

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