You know a government is done when it’s first and only instinct when caught doing the wrong thing is to lie
And that’s exactly where the BC Liberals are today.
Monday, Cassidy Oliver of the Province released a series of emails showing BC Liberal caucus staff doing the heavy work developing one of the BC Liberal Party smear sites.
There are strict rules about party activity by caucus staff, rules supposedly enforced by the (BC Liberal) Speaker. Developing a Liberal party smearsite is way, way outside those rules.
The BC Liberals sort of acknowledged that but claimed the website was actually developed by a staff member on his own time, on his own computer.
Reading through the government and caucus emails it’s clear that BC Liberal caucus workers, Premier’s office staff and their government paid consultant were developing this website for the BC Liberal party on the public’s dime.
Not only did caucus staff spend what appears to be a couple of lazy summer weeks in 2011 brainstorming (not so clever) urls, they also appear to have had a driving hand in developing the content for the site.
The group working on this project wasn’t just a small group of low level BC Liberal Caucus staff. It also involved Shane Mills, the Premier’s director of “Issues Management” and Don Millar, who’s $10,000 a month contract with the Premier’s Office for communications advice doesn’t mention developing smear sites
Millar was the one who gave the site a “go” towards the end of the email chain.
There are lots of unanswered questions: How much time did BC Liberal Caucus staff spend on this? What exactly did they provide the Party? Did they provide all the content, the research, the writing, the programming etc…? Did Don Millar and Shane Mills oversee the project? Did they provide advice and direction or more? Did Millar bill the government for this work? Has the Speaker investigated?
I could go on and on, but from here it seems the only apparent role for the party was purchasing the name and providing the server for the site. Thomas Marshall from the BC Liberal caucus promised to upload the content – in other words the content came directly out of the BC Liberal caucus.
What did the project cost taxpayers? Maybe $20 to $30 grand. Maybe as high as $50. Who knows?
But know this. You, the taxpayers are paying the freight for the BC Liberal Party’s smear campaigns. It makes US politics look clean.
This is my first post in a while. I’ll write a bit more about that soon. But to foreshadow, it’s been a weird up and down six months, currently on an upturn that’s surprisingly tough to deal with.