Saturday, May 23, 2009

On donor lists

As mentioned earlier in the week, let's take a closer look at the Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidates' donations received and disclosed between April 9 and May 20, as well as the general financial strategies of the candidates.

While Deb Higgins has only apparently disclosed three new donations (including in additional $500 on top of what Pat Atkinson had previously donated), a couple of them appear potentially significant in framing the reach of her campaign. Her largest new donation was $1,000 from the Saskatchewan Professional Firefighters Association - making for not only her first union donation, but in fact the only union donation to a candidate other than Dwain Lingenfelter. The donation can't necessarily be equated with an endorsement since the association donated an equal amount to Lingenfelter, but it at least signals that one union sees it as worth its while to show support to Higgins as well.

Meanwhile, Higgins' other new donor was Craig Thebaud, who gave $500 to Higgins and isn't listed on any other candidate's donation list. Thebaud is also listed as the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats' Past President for the 2008-09 year - and with Higgins currently short on public endorsements from younger party figures, it'll be interesting to see whether he takes the same risk that former SYND President James Ford did in offering a formal endorsement to Lingenfelter (which led to his removal from the post).

As I noted in my earlier post, Lingenfelter's influx of money included several new individual $5,000 donations, including one from Garry Aldridge. That leaves three that I haven't yet discussed - two of which come from Mathew and Tara Brister. A first bit of research turns up this about what appears to be the same Bristers in the context of a $1 million donation to fund a geophysics professorship at the University of Calgary:
Matt and Tara Brister both graduated from the university’s Department of Geology and Geophysics, which, with input from the oil and gas industry, recently has committed to bringing more innovative education to its undergraduate program. Their gift, part of a three-way funding partnership with the Faculty of Science and the university, was donated through the Calgary Foundation. The department trains the largest number of geoscience undergraduates of any university program in Canada.

Matt Brister is chairman of the mid-size oil company Storm Exploration and CEO of Storm Ventures International, an internationally focused start-up company. Tara Brister is immediate past board president of Alberta Theatre Projects.
The last maximum donation also appears to be from an oil-industry connection of Lingenfelter's: Charles Fischer, the former president and CEO of Nexen.

Other familiar names on Lingenfelter's list of new donors include former SaskTel president and CEO Don Ching, along with MLAs Ron Harper and Andy Iwanchuk. Though it's interesting to note that Lingenfelter still has less donors in caucus than Higgins despite having more supporters.

The main new donation to Ryan Meili's campaign was $5,000 listed as coming from a Breanne Davis. (I'm presuming the correct name is Breanna Davis, as Meili has previously blogged about attending a conference with a medical resident by that name from Prince Albert.) In addition, Meili added MLA David Forbes among others to his donor list.

In the meantime, Meili has also disclosed some additional fund-raising details, while concurrently putting out a call for a "money bomb" seeking donations in multiples of 34 (Meili's age) intended to total over $10,000 by the end of the month.

Finally, I've mentioned the difference in campaign disclosures that has seen Yens Pedersen list donors of exactly $250. But it's worth noting an interesting fact about the contributors added to Pedersen's list as a result. Of the four new names on Pedersen's list at the $250 level, three have given greater amounts to other candidates: Noah Evanchuk and Brendan Pyle to Meili's campaign, and Louise Simard to Higgins'.

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