PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — A key witness in the election misspending trial of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro says the politician was eager to obtain voter ID and get-out-the-vote services for his 2008 campaign.
Frank Hall, who was president of Ottawa-based data consulting firm Holinshed Research, says Del Mastro twice asked him how much such services would cost.
The first time, in June 2008, Hall says Del Mastro told him he might not need the services since he expected to be part of a centralized calling program the Conservative party uses to target select ridings.
But when he found out that wouldn’t be the case, Del Mastro urgently asked Hall for a second price estimate in September 2008, shortly after the campaign had begun.
He says Del Mastro sounded disappointed at not being part of the larger Conservative calling program, but seemed eager to use Holinshed’s services — priced at $21,000 — for his campaign.
Del Mastro’s dealings with Hall and his company are at the heart of the trial, which is taking place in Peterborough, Ont.
Crown lawyer Tom Lemon alleges Del Mastro paid for the firm’s services from a personal account, causing him to exceed a limit on personal contributions.
Lemon accuses Del Mastro of using backdated invoices to make it appear the company had only charged a fraction of the total cost for its services during the campaign, as the full amount would have exceeded allowed spending.
Del Mastro has pleaded not guilty to charges of overspending during the 2008 campaign, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign and knowingly submitting a falsified document.
He has said he’s feeling confident and is pleased the proceedings are underway.
If found guilty, Del Mastro could face a fine of one thousand dollars and a year behind bars.
He would not, however, be barred from running for office again.
Del Mastro was a Conservative MP and the Harper government’s point man on defending the Tories against voter fraud allegations until he resigned from caucus in September 2013. He now sits as an Independent.