Dirty, Dirty…

Pool, that is.  And it’s found over on the citycaucus.com site where former Sam Sullivan campaign organizer Mike Klassen – in an apologia for the Liberal government’s pathetic recommendations for municipal campaign reform – somehow puts Vision Vancouver in the same picture as Dave Stupich and warns readers that their vigilance must never rest.

Klassen goes on at length about Vision’s financial reporting then shifts to a warning about charitable donations and illegal activities with another link to Vision.  No allegations, no logic, just a bunch of ‘related’ issues shoved up against each other with Vision’s name scattered freely about.  Klassen concludes

“The connection to charities and politics should not be lost on us, as the potential for abuse didn’t go away when Dave Stupich was charged…

“Whether it’s a fraudulent use of charitable funds, the lack of timely disclosure, or not enough enforcement of penalities for abuse, there are many ways that our electoral system can refine and improve itself.”

Wow.  What a piece of trash talk.

And Hypocrisy with a capital H.  Because of course one of the only known examples of using a charity to slip donations over to a municipal political party occurred during the campaign Klassen helped organize for Sam Sullivan in 2005.

During that campaign the Sullivan controlled ‘Nanitch Policy Society’ slipped the NPA over $5 grand in donations.  Monte Paulson of the Tyee reported the story “Sullivan Hides NPA Donors” in November 2007 after the NPA disclosed the unusual donations.  At the time the Nanitch Policy Society was controlled by Sullivan and two other officers who claimed no knowledge of the NPA donations.  The other founding society member was Wayne Hartrick, Sullivan’s onetime communications director.  One of the four approved the payment to the NPA .

The truth of the matter is that municipal campaign financing needs to be cleaned up, especially in Vancouver.  With its at-large electoral system, party system and media concentration it is impossible to get elected in Vancouver without a party behind you spending at least a million dollars per cycle and more likely two million plus.  And that money primarily comes from a small number of special interests with a particular interest in the value of their land and developments and the zoning and other changes council makes that affect land values.  Another big chunk of change comes from civic unions, who have an interest in their jobs and wages.

The small changes promoted by the BC Liberal dominated municipal election financing panel won’t do the job.  At the end of the day, the same old interests will run the show.  All that will change is that you might know some more of the real insiders way after the fact.

And that’s how BC Liberals like Mike Klassen – most recent job, Colin Hansen’s campaign manager – want to keep it, at both the provincial and municipal level.*  For the record, Vision like the NDP at the provincial level, have proposed significant limits on donations including a ban on corporate and union donations.  That’s real change.

*Disclosure:  I was Campaign Manager for the Vision Vancouver Campaign in 2005.

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One Response to Dirty, Dirty…

  1. RossK says:

    Ian, you said:

    “….it is impossible to get elected in Vancouver without a party behind you spending at least a million dollars per cycle and more likely two million plus…..”

    I don’t disagree. In fact, the reality of the situation is something I always tried my best to explain to my friends amongst the Classics who derided the Lightists amongst them for trying to work with the least offensive of those with the deep pockets to try and get things done.

    But there’s another aspect to all that money raising that that I think is also corrosive.

    Which is that it also generates such huge piles of cash that it makes it possible to skim some of the frothiest creme off the top.

    And then hide it away in, for example, well-refrigerated ‘war chests’.

    Now, what might some of that froth be used for if, say, a former politician was to spread it around AFTER he left office?

    Or, put another way…..How do folks who suddenly become full time ‘new-media wurlitzer wunderkinds’ do it, and keep on keepin’ on doin’ it, without any visible means of revenue generation to do so?


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