Well, not directly, but still. Sadly for the Sparrow – and more sadly still, I’m sure, for Patrick Muttart and the Conservative Party – as of this morning, not a word of this statement appears to have found its way into the post-hearing coverage, which really isn’t all that surprising, considering how late it went out:
From: “Ryan Sparrow”
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 19:41:57 -0400
Subject: Statement from the Conservative Party
Media reports today suggest that Patrick Muttart organized and administered regional media buys for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2006 federal election. This is false.
Patrick Muttart was a member of the Conservative Party’s national campaign team during the 2006 election. He was responsible for creative and media strategy and not the financing or administration of regional media buys.
The difference between responsibility for media strategy, and responsibility for “the financing or administration of regional media buys” seems like a pretty fine line to draw, particularly given the testimony earlier this week from Retail Media vice-president Andrew Kumpf, who told the committee that Muttart was his “main contact” during the last campaign – and remains so even now, as the party prepares for the next election.
Retail Media officials also confirmed that Muttart was on the line for at least one of those now infamous conference calls, during which they were assured “by party officials” that the buys were legal, and his name – or his email address, at least – also appears in several emails filed by Elections Canada as part of the search warrant application.
Given all that, it’s easy to see how “media reports” migh have referred to Muttart as having “organized” the regional buys, despite the fact that he wasn’t directly responsible for “financing and administration” – although since I can’t find a single story emanating from Tuesday’s hearing that goes into such exhaustive detail on the mechanics of the buy that such a clarification would be required, it seems more preemptive than corrective at this point. It also suggests that the party is more worried about the optics of this case than they’re letting on. Which makes the fact that they put out this statement after the hearings had wrapped up for the week – and two days after Retail Media’s appearance – the most interesting thing about it.