Furor over Vision's funding allegations

Furor over Vision’s funding allegations
Erica Bulman, November 16, 2011
24 Hours Vancouver

Just days before the civic election, an independent researcher threw a grenade into Gregor Robertson’s camp, raising questions about campaign financing that sparked a hostile skirmish between Vision Vancouver and the NPA.

North Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause, who has long been investigating the origins of Robertson’s campaign finances, suggested in the 2008 civic campaign Vision Vancouver may have received up to $340,000 in donations from private “investment firms” and “PR companies” funded by U.S-funded charities.

Election law prohibits charities from making political contributions.

Anton publicly asked Tuesday whether $194,000 donated to Vision Vancouver was “moved through” these companies but in fact came from Endswell Foundation and Tides Canada, who have sister charities in the U.S.

“Last week at an editorial board meeting with the Vancouver Sun, Robertson said he did not know the origin of the money and refused to take any responsibility for finding out. That is unacceptable,” Anton said. “It’s easy for him to make inquiries since both his chief fundraiser Joel Solomon and Vision Vancouver treasurer Martha Burton are connected to the charities and the service companies.”

Robertson lashed back, calling it a “desperate” last-minute attack by the NPA.

“They’re baseless allegations. Those are public charities audited by Revenue Canada, and we ensure that all the rules are followed,” Robertson told 24 hours.

He countered that Anton and the NPA have not disclosed donations since the last election.

But Krause, uninvolved with either party, accused Robertson of sidestepping the issue.

“The heart of the issue is honesty. The question is whether campaign finance has been honestly reported or whether it has been reported in a deceptive and misleading way,” she said.

She said the way Vision Vancouver is accepting money might be “technically correct” but “unethical.”

Meanwhile, Occupy Vancouver challenged municipal candidates to reveal by midnight Thursday the sources and amounts of all campaign donations greater than $100, including any money collected outside the elections cycle. It is also proposing non-B.C. residents should be prohibited from making donations.

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