One of the frontrunners in the race to lead the B.C. Liberal party finds himself in hot water less than 24 hours before polls close on February 3.
Todd Stone’s campaign had to cancel 1,349 memberships it registered in support of his candidacy after the party learned they were associated with fake email addresses, the Vancouver Sun reported this afternoon (February 2).
The bad email accounts were apparently created by an employee of Aggregate IQ, a marketing company that Stone’s team contracted to help with the campaign.
Aggregate IQ has been in the news lately because the Victoria-based firm is under investigation by authorities in both B.C. and the United Kingdom for any role it may have played in convincing U.K. residents to vote to leave the European Union in a referendum that was held in June 2016.
According to the Sun’s report, Liberal party officials learned that Aggregate IQ had registered domain names and used them to create email addresses that could then be assigned to new party members who were recruited by the Stone campaign.
“If true,” the Sun’s Rob Shaw wrote, “the move could have theoretically allowed the Stone campaign to control registration on behalf of those members, collect their personal identification numbers from the party, and then vote on their behalf, which is not allowed under party rules.”
The issue was first raised by a party official on January 26. Stone’s campaign subsequently agreed that those 1,349 members associated with the fake email accounts would not take part in the vote for party leader.
The new members in question were apparently mostly non-English-speaking residents of Richmond and Surrey.
Peter Fassbender, cochair of the Stone campaign, claimed that the candidate himself had nothing to do with Aggregate IQ in relation to the alleged creation of fake email addresses.
“Todd was not involved in the day-to-day management of the campaign; that was his campaign team,” Fassbender told the Sun. “As soon as he found out there was an issue, he asked, and the team had already started to, dive into the issue.”
Fassbender maintained that although the email addresses were fake, the people they were associated with were not.
“Our understanding at that time was these were real people who had paid their membership but there was something that didn’t comply with the standards the party had set for emails,” he told the Sun.
In addition to Stone, candidates for Liberal-party leadership include Mike de Jong, Michael Lee, Sam Sullivan, Dianne Watts, and Andrew Wilkinson.
A winner is scheduled to be declared on February 3 at a party meeting in Vancouver.More