More Katz mega-donation headaches?

The Globe and Mail, by means of outstanding spadework, has accounted for the particulars of all of the $430,000 donated to the Alberta Progressive Conservative party in its hour of electoral need by Edmonton Oilers owner and pharmacy magnate Daryl Katz. Actually, David Ebner and Dawn Walton traced the $430,000 and then some—others with close business relationships to Katz, it turns out, contributed to the PC kitty. But even the $430,000 donated this spring, supposedly in the form of a single cheque, represents more than a quarter of the cash raised by the Tories during the 2012 election period. The party managed to raise just $1.6 million—while spending almost $4.7 million protecting its flanks from the upstart Wildrose Party.

Alberta’s chief electoral officer has promised an investigation into the splitting up of Katz’s hefty donation. (And the opposition parties are calling for Katz to step down from the board of AIMCo, the corporation that manages investment funds for the province, its public pension plans, and some institutional endowments.) But there might be another problem. Step into the time machine with me as we travel back to September 13, 2011 and open the Edmonton Journal:

Has Oilers owner Daryl Katz quietly shifted his home base to Vancouver? That’s the rumour that has circulated in local business circles for months. And while several sources tell The Journal the reclusive drugstore tycoon now spends most of his time on the West Coast, where his children attend school, it’s unclear how much time he still spends in Edmonton.

…Several sources told The Journal that Katz purchased the penthouse condo at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, and has lived there for much of this year.

“What I’ve been able to confirm from several sources is that Katz has moved to Vancouver and he’s been there since the beginning of April,” said one well-connected Edmonton businessman.

One city councillor interviewed by the Journal’s Gary Lamphier was not troubled to hear that Katz had moved:

Coun. Bryan Anderson sees the location of Katz’s primary residence as a non-issue, however.

“It doesn’t concern me. There’s a lot of big players in the world who have homes in several places,” he said.

There is one person, however, who might care a little about the location of Daryl Katz’s primary residence: Alberta’s chief electoral officer. A couple of entertaining morsels from the province’s Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act:

16. No prohibited corporation, person ordinarily resident outside Alberta or trade union or employee organization other than a trade union or employee organization as defined in this Act shall make any contributions to a registered party, registered constituency association or registered candidate.

…35(1). No registered party, registered constituency association or registered candidate shall, directly or indirectly, (a) knowingly solicit or accept contributions from any person ordinarily resident outside Alberta

Despite the Journal’s revelations from last fall, I imagine that, all things being equal, Daryl Katz would arrange his affairs so as to qualify as an Alberta resident for tax purposes. It’s hard to say whether those are relevant here, however. The election law doesn’t offer an explicit definition of “ordinarily resident”. (“The place where you send your kids to school” would seem to provide a pretty decent first approximation.) And in the event the definition needs to be explicitly made now, I’m afraid I expect it to be exactly as generous as necessary to prevent an embarrassing refund here.

Nonetheless, the investigation into Katz’s personal $30,000 donation—and perhaps the entire $430,000 he is said to have actually presented—will obviously require a close study of his comings and goings.