Premier Kathleen Wynne’s deputy chief of staff and a Liberal fundraiser are facing bribery charges laid under the Elections Act related to the Sudbury byelection scandal in 2015.
Patricia Sorbara, head of Wynne’s re-election campaign, has been charged by the Ontario Provincial Police with two counts of bribery under the Act, while Gerry Lougheed, a Liberal operative in Sudbury, faces one count of bribery.
Two complaints were registered with the Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario in December of 2014, for possible contraventions of the Act.
“This has been a complex and unprecedented investigation for the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch, which has culminated in bribery charges under the Election Act Of Ontario” said OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.
The two will make court appearances in Sudbury on the same day, November 21st.
The scandal involves the 2015 byelection in Sudbury in which it is alleged would-be Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier was offered a government appointment to step aside for Wynne’s preferred candidate and current Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault.
Lougheed was had been previously charged with one count of counselling an offence not committed and one count of unlawfully influencing or negotiating appointments, but those were stayed by the crown in April.
Council for Sorbara, from Simcoe Chambers, say the “regulatory offences and stem from legislation that, it appears, is being applied in an unprecedented and extraordinary way.”
In the worst case scenario, a conviction under the bribery section of the Election Act could result in a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to two years less a day in jail.