Premier Christy Clark speaks to BC Liberal convention, November 2016. The party has the largest donor base and has reported the most improper donations. /BLACK PRESS

Special prosecutor named in donations probe

RCMP requested independent lawyer to decide on charges

B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch has appointed a special prosecutor in the investigation of indirect donations to political parties in B.C.

Vancouver lawyer David Butcher will determine what charges should be laid under the Election Act after the BC Liberal party and the NDP disclosed donations registered by individuals who were reimbursed by organizations they represent.

The BC Liberal Party announced last week it was returning nearly $93,000 in donations that were made by 43 individuals with personal credit cards, who were then reimbursed by employers or clients in violation of the Election Act. Another 30 donations were reported incorrectly due to what the party called “clerical errors” and have not been returned.

The BC NDP reviewed its records and returned two 2015 donations totalling about $10,000 that were improperly reported.

Elections BC initiated the investigation after lobbyists spoke publicly about being pressured to buy tables of tickets for political fundraisers to support the BC Liberals. Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer later referred the investigation to the RCMP, as the agency prepares for the May 9 provincial election.

The RCMP requested a special prosecutor, an independent lawyer who makes decisions on charges in cases involving politicians.