Political donations made to the BC Liberals under the name of a prominent Teck Resources lobbyist were actually made by the company and were registered in error, according to the company.
A joint investigation between DeSmog Canada and University of Victoria researcher Nick Graham of the Corporate Mapping Project uncovered seven Teck Resources registered lobbyists who have also donated to the BC Liberals.
According to the Elections BC database, Carleigh Whitman, manager of government relations for Teck Resources, made personal contributions totaling $4,275 to the BC Liberals.
Political donations by lobbyists are in the spotlight after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed some lobbyists are being reimbursed for their contributions, a practice that is illegal in B.C., a province with some of the weakest political donation laws in the country.
Last week Elections BC launched an investigation into the matter and, after receiving additional complaints regarding personal donations, it has now referred the investigation to the RCMP.
When asked if Teck Resources reimbursed Whitman for her donation to the BC Liberals, Chris Stannell, senior communications specialist for Teck, said the contributions “were listed in error as being made by an individual.”
“They were donations made by Teck and paid using a Teck corporate credit card,” Stannell wrote to DeSmog Canada in an e-mail.
“Our practice is to report all such administrative errors and request a correction as soon as we are made aware of them,” he said.
Stannell said the company does not make donations through individuals.
The BC Liberals previously admitted “there has been confusion” about how donations from individuals are registered in the party’s system because some donations made on the behalf of a company or special interest are not categorized as such.
Donations made on the BC Liberal website through a personal credit card are automatically registered as a personal contribution, even though the donation may have been intended to be made on a corporation’s behalf.
A spokesperson for the BC Liberals did not respond to a request for comment.
In addition to Whitman, six other Teck Resources lobbyists have also made personal donations to the BC Liberals.
Mark Edwards (donations: $4,500) tweet
James Fraser (donations: $1,186) tweet
Mark Reder (donations: $3,465) tweet
Marcia Smith (donations: $2,975) tweet
Tom Syer (donations: $730) tweet
Alexa Young (donations: $1,900) tweet
Teck Resources declined to comment further on donations made by these six other individuals. The company also did not respond to questions regarding when Teck became aware of the donations being “listed in error” or when Teck reported such inaccuracies to the BC Liberals.
Teck Resources is the largest donor to the BC Liberals. Since 2008 Teck has donated $1,502,444 to the BC Liberals and $60,090 to the BC NDP. Since 2010, Norman Keevil, chair of the board for Teck, has personally donated $65,585 to the BC Liberals.
The company reported $8.3 billion in revenue in 2015 and operates five metallurgical mines in B.C. as well as an oilsands mine in Alberta.
Thirty Additional Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Contributed to BC Liberals
Donations from these lobbyists total more than $116,000 with some individuals donating more than $11,000 through multiple small contributions.
The top 10 most active lobbying firms in the fossil fuel sector include the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Chevron Canada, Enbridge, Encana, FortisBC, Spectra Energy, Teck Resources and TransCanada.
Several of the lobbyists work under the employment of government relations firms including National Public Relations and Earnscliffe. Both firms did not respond to requests for comment on their policy regarding reimbursement for political donations.
DeSmog Canada also reached out to several of the top donors for comment, but those requests went unanswered.
Image: Teck Resources via Facebook