Ontario PC Party now apologizing after sending phony invoices to get donations
Letters that the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario may have thought were a new and creative way of securing campaign donations have quite justifiably led to a ton of public outrage and backlash this week.
Constituents across the province have been receiving appeals for fundraising disguised as invoices that indicate that they owe hundreds of dollars.
Though a discerning eye can see that the "invoices" are not real, mandatory charges, many are extremely offput by the party's method.
The official-looking document says "invoice" in large letters at the top, and below it, a chart typical of your average bill, with a charge listed for an "Election Readiness Fund" and a "Balance Due" ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000.
"Please respond today" it says at the bottom of the page.
This is a NEW LOW even for @fordnation.— Dr. Jill Andrew (she/her) (@JILLSLASTWORD) August 18, 2021
To ask for donations as an INVOICE?! Thinking of all the seniors, people living w disabilities or anyone on a fixed income who received this, thinking it was something they OWED and paid up.#onpoli#VoteFordOut2022 pic.twitter.com/0rHF2ylIxt
The province's Liberal party was swift to issue an unsparing response, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the correspondence is misleading and "similar to those used in false billing scams that aim to defraud vulnerable individuals. Scamming donors is straight out of the Donald Trump playbook."
It adds that the Liberals are requesting an investigation into the tactic by Elections Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police, and gives the official definition of fraud from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre — a definition that the letter does seem to fit, if any recipient mistakes it for a real invoice.
At least one NDP MPP has likewise asked for a formal review of whether the fundraising strategy violates the Elections Act.
Ontario PC party insider tells me whoever made the call to approve the bogus invoice marketing scheme “doesn’t belong in this party.”— 𝚂𝚎á𝚗 𝙾’𝚂𝚑𝚎𝚊 (@ConsumerSOS) August 18, 2021
Make no mistake: the fund-raising scheme would have been vetted and approved at a senior level, not at the whim of a marketing intern. #onpoli
In the midst of all the buzz, the PCs, too, released a statement on the matter Thursday, saying that "at no time was it our intention to mislead our valued supporters."
"We regret that this correspondence was sent to a limited group of supporters by one of our vendors and will not happen again. We apologize for any confusion or frustration this may have caused."
#BREAKING - The Ontario PC party breaks its silence on the “invoice” letter— Richard Southern (@richard680news) August 19, 2021
“At no time was it our intention to mislead our valued supporters. We regret that this correspondence was sent to a limited group of supporters by one of our vendors and will not happen again.” pic.twitter.com/ry98xnC4nW
The vendor in question is Toronto-based firm The Responsive Marketing Group, part of The iMarketing Solutions Group, from which someone is no doubt now facing punitive action, if not getting fired.
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