Top 4 Liberal candidates spent $1.2M on leadership campaign
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball spent more than $200,000 out of his own pocket to win the party leadership, and then when some of his campaign donors wanted to hold on to their anonymity, Ball wrote another cheque for $11,000 and gave them their money back.
Ball released a list of names showing all 114 people he took money from — mostly donations of $1,000 or smaller — saying it was really the only option.
“How you can be out there saying you’re going to be open and transparent and be not willing to release the people that actually contributed to your campaign?” Ball said to The Telegram. “Personally, I wanted to say that we were open and transparent. That’s just the philosophy that I work under.”
It wasn’t just Ball posting his campaign finance information Monday. Less than an hour after Ball emailed his numbers to the media, fourth-place Liberal leadership candidate Danny Dumaresque sent out his numbers.
Then, in the afternoon, third-place candidate Cathy Bennett sent some financial information of her own to the media.
Runner-up Paul Antle has already released his campaign finance information, which means St. Barbe MHA Jim Bennett is now the only Liberal leadership candidate who hasn’t disclosed information about how much he spent in the campaign.
In total, Ball spent $312,733 on his campaign, Cathy Bennett spent $411,000, Dumaresque spent $32,850 and Antle spent $438,000. The top four candidates collectively spent about $1.2 million on the race.
The Liberal party didn’t impose any rules regarding leadership campaign donations or spending, and party leadership races aren’t included in the Elections Act, so it was an anything-goes affair.
Since the race ended, several candidates have said some rules would have been good.
“There is a direct relationship between money and votes, and while total equality may never be obtained, the party must ensure that the process never allows for unfettered spending,” Dumaresque said.
Ball said spending caps and mandatory disclosure would be a better way to go next time.
One of the staggering aspects of the campaign disclosure reports so far is how much of the spending has been paid out of pocket by the three top candidates. Ball, Bennett and Antle all paid the majority of their campaign costs with their own money.
Bennett spent $255,000 of her own money on the campaign.
Antle spent $274,426 of his own money.
All told, Ball spent $223,321, including the $11,000 he paid back to donors who didn’t want their names disclosed.
Ball said the payback was an easy decision.
“I said, ‘They can be anonymous, and they can have their money back.’”
The full list of his donors was published on his website — www.dwightball.ca — Monday morning, alongside the contribution amounts.