Elections Alberta is Looking Into Take Back Alberta’s Finances and Donations, TBA’s Former CFO Says
Take Back Alberta founder David Parker had his posting privileges revoked from the group’s Telegram following in-fighting between TBA leaders
First, the leadership of Take Back Alberta has been in turmoil following the election that brought Danielle Smith to power.
Now, TBA’s former Chief Financial Officer says the group is facing an audit from Elections Alberta over its finances and donation records.
TBA’s former CFO Marco Van Huigenbos says he was recently contacted by an Elections Alberta “investigator” to possibly “open the books” on the third-party group’s financial reporting, including for the election where it reported zero donations and zero expenditures as a registered election advertiser.
“I think there’s things coming down the line that are going to have consequences for them. Elections Alberta is on the trail,” Van Huigenbos told PressProgress, adding that he intends to cooperate with Elections Alberta’s investigation.
“It’s a financial audit. There’s probably a likelihood it’ll trigger something else, but that’s not for me to say one way or the other.”
The controversial right-wing group “Take Back Alberta” is purging its top organizers as it shifts its focus to targeting school boards across Canada.
— PressProgress (@pressprogress) October 26, 2023
Contacted by PressProgress, Parker said it was the first he’s heard about the Elections Alberta investigation into Take Back Alberta as described by Van Huigenbos.
“I have no indication from Elections Alberta that they’re investigating us for anything,” Parker told PressProgress. “We did not raise any money for advertising during the election.”
Parker acknowledged “there was some advertising in the Western Standard that they wanted a report on” and admitted TBA and Elections Alberta are currently “working on a few details together.”
In a statement to PressProgress, Elections Alberta said it was “unable to comment on allegations that we may or may not have received, or investigations we may or may not be conducting.”
TBA’s former CFO has been publicly feuding with Parker in recent months. The group’s Telegram channel currently appears to be in a state of administrative lockdown, with neither Parker or any of the organization “captains” able to post.
— Marco Van Huigenbos (@marco_huigenbos) October 27, 2023
Van Huigenbos, who initially created the channel and therefore controls full admin privileges, told PressProgress he locked Parker out of their channel, leaving Parker unable to communicate with nearly 4,000 members on the channel.
The former CFO says the group has received significant amounts of donations over the last couple years.
In this time, TBA has had considerable organizing success. Parker and his team have taken credit for the coup that toppled Jason Kenney’s premiership, for taking over half the party board at annual general meetings through the mass mobilization of its membership, and for bringing Danielle Smith to power within the party.
Parker has claimed TBA has about 30,000 members. Van Huigenbos, however, says there’s more to the group than just grassroots organizing power.
“There’s significant dollars. It was last year in February they said they’re not a third party. That’s interesting,” Van Huigenbos said. “I don’t know how that was structured, but I don’t believe that’s the case.”
The disillusioned ex-CFO is currently facing two charges for criminal mischief over $5,000 for events related to the Canada-US border blockade at Coutts during the convoy.
“For Take Back Alberta to only disclose $24,000 of contributions in the 2022 year … I got a question for you. Do you really think $24,000 took out Jason Kenney?” Van Huigenbos said.
“So if they ever, and maybe they have, but if they ever subpoena accounts payments, that essentially shows a picture right, and that’s where I think that’s a problem for them.”
Under current rules, business and individual donations are capped at $30,000 to third party advertisers.
It’s not a secret that TBA doesn’t disclose its donors. Parker himself has stated it’s because TBA is a society and isn’t obligated to completely open its books to Elections Alberta’s online database.
“I’m not going to show you my bank records, because I don’t want to show you who my donors are, but I’ve personally put $150,000 more into TBA than I’ve taken out,” Parker previously told PressProgress.
According to public records, TBA recently incorporated as a federal non-profit. The organization according to Parker will expand to all of the western provinces. Parker recently confirmed ongoing efforts to set up a branch organization in Ontario.
Update: Following publication of this story, David Parker tweeted that he had spoken with Elections Alberta. “We are not being audited nor are we facing an audit,” Parker said. “Take Back Alberta is up to date on all our election filings.”
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