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Updated: 7th January 2019 13:49

Wildrose claims U of L donated $15,000 to PC party

The Wildrose party is calling on Elections Alberta to start another investigation into donations to the Progressive Conservative party.

Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman calls on Elections Alberta to investigate

The Wildrose party says it has proof that the University of Lethbridge donated more than $15,000 to the Alberta Progressive Conservative party.

University documents obtained by the Wildrose under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act show that executives from the U of L attended a variety of PC Party fundraisers in 2004 and 2005.

However, the party didn't issue receipts to the university — instead the receipts went out in the names of the individual executives.

The executives then recovered their money by submitting their expenses to the university.

A search for the "University of Lethbridge" into the Elections Alberta website won’t return any results, even though the university actually paid for tickets to 12 events in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton.

"This is very clearly entrenched behaviour from a political party that believes it is above the law," Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman said in a statement on the party’s website.

"This is one example, from one university over a very short period of time. How far does this scandal go? It’s more of the same old from the PCs, only out for themselves." 

The U of L issued a statement in response, saying the institution was told that it could no longer make political contributions as of 2005 and it took steps to stop the practice.

Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta president Bill Smith said the issue is a university administrative problem, rather than a political one. 

"We can't help it if they go back to the university of Lethbridge and claim that as an expense. I mean how would we know?" said Smith.

Last week it was announced by Elections Alberta that 10 Conservative riding associations are already under investigation by Alberta’s chief electoral officer for their handling of political donations from banned organizations, including municipalities.

Elections Alberta said Tuesday they would likely expand their review to include financial records from Alberta post-secondary institutions.

When asked how wide-spread the problem of public institutions indirectly donating to political parties, Elections Alberta director of election operations Drew Westwater responded: "How large a problem is it?  Is it bigger than the bread box? I have no idea at this time."

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