If some Conservatives were lying about when they supposedly spoke to Michael Sona about a robocall scheme, how dependable are similar stories from other Conservatives egged on by the party’s lawyer, Arthur Hamilton?
Some of the most damaging testimony, according to a sworn statement by Elections Canada investigator Allan Mathews, comes from Rebecca Dockstaeder, who worked for CPC MP Chris Warkentin.
According to the Mathews document, Sona allegedly came by her office and that of another Warkentin staffer, John Schudlo, and boasted of his robocalls work “a week to 10 days” after the May 2, 2011 election. That would mean between May 9 and May 12.
However travel records show that Sona flew on US Airways to Aruba, in the Caribbean, on May 7 and only returned late on May 14th, a Saturday. He was not back in his office – he worked on communications for Tory MP Rob Moore – until May 16, the Monday.
Let’s examine both the evidence against Sona being Pierre Poutine, and the evidence for that case:
– He worked on the Guelph Conservative campaign, 1 of 247 campaigns said by Elections Canada to have experienced irregular robocalls [misleading non-Conservative voters].
– There’s a recording of a bilingual illegal robocall from Guelph, that used the Conservative Information Management System (CIMS) to identify who to phone.
– Conservatives located by the party’s top lawyer, Hamilton, told Elections Canada they each heard a similar story from Sona after the election, bragging about making illegal phonecalls.
– Sona’s lawyer has evidence that his client was not in Canada at the time some Conservative staff witnesses claimed to have spoken to the accused former Conservative staffer Sona.
– Sona is not bilingual, so could not record a translated version of the call, without assistance. He is the only accused.
– Sona may have had access to CIMS, but not without CPC HQ’s authorization, and they’d have a record of all CIMS access logged in a way that Sona could not delete such logging. The CPC has not provided evidence that Sona’s CIMS account accessed this data. He’d also have no access to phone numbers from other ridings where different calls were made.
– Guelph CPC paid Andrew Prescott to make legitimate robocalls for their campaign, through RackNine. That was the same firm Pierre Poutine chose to make illegal robocalls from, using Prescott’s computer.
– It is unanswered how Hamilton managed to sit in on Elections Canada’s interviews with witnesses he’d located for Al Mathews, since he was not representing those witnesses as their lawyer.
Five of the staffers came to the attention of Mathews thanks to Hamilton, who sat in on the interviews as counsel for the party, which has raised questions about the independence of the investigation.
Mathews testified on Wednesday that the witnesses showed up for the interviews with Hamilton.
“They presented themselves with him in tow,” he said.
What seems more plausible to me than the story put forward by the Conservative Party, is Sona has been made to take the fall for the entire RoboCon conspiracy, which had to have included a systems administrator at CPC HQ to delete log files at a minimum, and grant superuser access to phone numbers across the country. Besides that simple detail, along with his inability to program a bilingual robocall, Elections Canada would appear to be grasping. There should be a charge of obstruction against the Conservative Party’s system admin at the least, for being unable to provide an explanation of why specific logs were destroyed before investigators got to them.
We know the CPC have a long stretch of deleting incriminating files, in part thanks to Mike Duffy.
Adding to the list of Conservatives who have so far gotten away with illegal campaign over-spending, is Shelly Glover. Peter Penashue, and Peter Van Loan have also escaped without meaningful legal consequences, while Dean Del Mastro is facing 4 criminal charges. Bezan is yet to go to criminal court, but may still yet be stripped of his seat. Fantino is also accused by former Conservatives for having kept two sets of campaign finance books.
Maybe Duffy and Wallin’s fundraising on the public dime during the last campaign will add more woes to the illegal campaign budgets popping up slowly across the country since 2008 and 2011 (not counting the 2006 In and Out fraud).
ADDED: Montreal Simon has more on this RoboCon story.