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Special prosecutor appointed in B.C. political donations case

The appointment of special prosecutor David Butcher comes after B.C. Elections referred its political donations investigation to police.

The B.C. Legislature building in Victoria.

Canadian Press

The B.C. Legislature building in Victoria.

A special prosecutor has been appointed as police continue to investigate alleged illegal political contributions in British Columbia.

The Criminal Justice Branch announced Thursday that special prosecutor David Butcher will provide legal advice to the RCMP as it looks into indirect political contributions and possible BC Election Act violations.

Elections BC first launched an investigation following the publication of a Globe and Mail story that alleged some lobbyists were being illegally repaid for making personal donations under their names – a practice that is against the law.

The case was then handed over the RCMP, which continues to investigate.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher applauded Butcher’s appointment.

“It’s a good first step,” Conacher, who has been critical of the province’s lax election financing rules, told Metro. “Now I think anyone that took part should be prosecuted. There is no valid reason for them not to be if they were making illegal donations. No one should be left off the hook.”

In light of the controversy, Conacher has called on all political parties and Elections BC to regularly audit donations.

Speaking to Metro earlier this month, Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer said the alleged scheme “runs counter to the very foundation of our political contribution disclosure system, which is to make transparent who is contributing to the political parties here in B.C.”

The BC Liberal Party has promised to pay back $93,000 in donations and said it is transparent about the donations it receives by publicly posting them within 10 days.

Premier Christy Clark’s main rival in the May 9 election is hoping the ongoing scandal, and larger debate about political donations in B.C., turns into a major issue for voters.

“Christy Clark had every opportunity to clean up the wild west of political cash,” Horgan said in a statement released Thursday. “Instead of siding with British Columbians by ending the influence of big money, she chose yet again to protect her rich donors. Ultimately, it’s British Columbians who get to decide whether she made the right choice.”

A special prosecutor has been appointed as police continue to investigate alleged illegal political contributions in British Columbia.

The Criminal Justice Branch announced Thursday that special prosecutor David Butcher will provide legal advice to the RCMP as it looks into indirect political contributions and possible BC Election Act violations.

Elections BC first launched an investigation following the publication of a Globe and Mail story that alleged some lobbyists were being illegally repaid for making personal donations under their names – a practice that is against the law.

The case was then handed over the RCMP, which continues to investigate.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher applauded Butcher’s appointment.

“It’s a good first step,” Conacher, who has been critical of the province’s lax election financing rules, told Metro. “Now I think anyone that took part should be prosecuted. There is no valid reason for them not to be if they were making illegal donations. No one should be left off the hook.”

In light of the controversy, Conacher has called on all political parties and Elections BC to regularly audit donations.

Speaking to Metro earlier this month, Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer said the alleged scheme “runs counter to the very foundation of our political contribution disclosure system, which is to make transparent who is contributing to the political parties here in B.C.”

The BC Liberal Party has promised to pay back $93,000 in donations and said it is transparent about the donations it receives by publicly posting them within 10 days.

Premier Christy Clark’s main rival in the May 9 election is hoping the ongoing scandal, and larger debate about political donations in B.C., turns into a major issue for voters.

“Christy Clark had every opportunity to clean up the wild west of political cash,” Horgan said in a statement released Thursday. “Instead of siding with British Columbians by ending the influence of big money, she chose yet again to protect her rich donors. Ultimately, it’s British Columbians who get to decide whether she made the right choice.”

In a statement, the BC Liberal Party said it is committed to transparency, accountability, and ensuring that British Columbians can have confidence in our electoral financing system.

"We are voluntarily reporting all contributions in real time on our website," reads the statement. "We have cooperated fully with Elections BC to date, and will cooperate fully if contacted by the RCMP or the special prosecutor."

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