Vaughan millionaire behind to ‘Vaughan Working Families’ group has ties to Education Minister Stephen Lecce
Vaughan Working Families, a mysterious group that ran full-page ads attacking Ontario’s teachers earlier this year, violated Ontario’s elections act by failing to register as a third-party advertiser, Elections Ontario says.
According to Global News, Elections Ontario released a statement Wednesday that says the advertiser, which ran ads attacking Ontario’s teachers unions during rotating strike action, contravened the Elections Financing Act by failing to register.
#NEW: @ElectionsON has found an apparent breach of the Election Finances Act by Vaughan Working Families. It comes after an investigation into a complaint filed by @normsworld, the findings are now w/ AG @douglasdowney‘s office. #ONted #onpoli pic.twitter.com/EjSaiJJ9P3
— Travis Dhanraj (@Travisdhanraj) June 24, 2020
Advertiser linked to deep-pocketed donors: Vaughan Working Families’ ads were posted in early February without a website or any contact info and with a picture of a Polish stock photo model whose husband adamantly denied she had any knowledge of Ontario politics.
As PressProgress first reported, Vaughan Working Families was registered in 2018 by an advocacy group called Vaughan Health Campus of Care — an advertiser chaired by Michael DeGasperis, CEO of Arista Homes and a director of TACC Developments.
We tracked down the mother presented as the public face of the mysterious “Vaughan Working Families” group.
— PressProgress (@pressprogress) February 2, 2020
Michael DeGasperis isn’t just one of the wealthiest men in Vaughan, he is also a prominent political donor — having recently donated $1,050 to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative party in 2019.
DeGasperis is also the owner of the Copper Creek Golf Club where Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s riding association hosted a party fundraiser in September 2019. Lecce also hosted his 2020 ‘New Year’s Levee’ at the private golf club.
More details about who is behind the mysterious anti-teacher attack ads from a fake parents’ group called “Vaughan Working Families.”
— PressProgress (@pressprogress) February 8, 2020
And a lobbyist: As PressProgress also reported, TACC Developments has also been actively lobbying the provincial government — pushing for changes to highway zoning rules near one of its Vaughan properties.
NEW: Developer with links to fake parents’ group lobbied Doug Ford’s government shortly after “Vaughan Working Families” ran its anti-teacher attack ads.
— PressProgress (@pressprogress) February 21, 2020
Major news companies ran illegal ads: The ads were published in three of Canada’s biggest newspapers: The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post.
TorStar later issued an apology to readers: “Through inadvertence, the ad slipped through our (vetting) processes.” When asked by PressProgress, Globe Media Group refused to disclose the name of the person who paid them to run the illegal ad.
To date, Postmedia has not commented on the illegal ads.
What’s next: According to Global, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer reported the matter to the Ministry of the Attorney General. If convicted, the penalty is a fine of not more than $5,000.
Asked about the ads, Doug Ford told media “I had nothing to do with that but I guess it’s at the AG’s office and we’ll see what happens.”
Here’s Election’s Ontario’s full statement: The complaint was filed by Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Norman Di Pasquale, who previously told PressProgress he took issue with the group running ads using an anonymous and potentially misleading identity.Advice of Referral to MAG Letter to Mr. Norman Di Pasquale