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Robocall Scandal: Pierre Poutine Operated in Guelph Tory Campaign Office

Andrew Prescott worked as deputy campaign manager for Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke. An IP address used by Prescott to make legitimate campaign calls has been linked by Elections Canada to fraudulent robocalls in the riding, though no allegations have been made against Prescott.The Elections Canada has found that the misleading calls that targeted non-Conservative voters in the last election came from the same IP address (and thus same computer) as regular messages from the Guelph Tory campaign office.

An affidavit declares that two unique computer addresses, one links to a proxy server, were used to access RackNine by the deputy campaign manager, Andrew Prescott and the person who paid for the calls on election day between April 30 and May 2, 2011, according to Elections Canada Investigator Allan Mathews.

“At a minimum,” the computer log information means Prescott and Pierre Poutine “used the same computer” on May 1 at around 9 p.m., “and that a single computer appears to have been used to access RackNine — the Edmonton-based automated dialing and voice broadcast service — both directly and by way of the proxy server on several occasions,” he wrote.

On May 2, both Prescott and Pierre Poutine’s accounts with RackNine were accessed on the same computer 4 minutes apart.

The court documents also reveal that the Conservative Party lawyer admitted that the list of Guelph residents who were targeted matches the list of non-supporters identified by the party on April 27, just days before the election.

The affidavit suggests others on the Guelph campaign had openly discussed dirty tricks, despite being warned against it.

Mathews noted multiple aliases that were used to make accounts. Pierre Jones was used for the account with RackNine and Pierre Poutine was used to create the account with Bell Canada. He set up a throw away burner cell phone and Pierre Jones used a free web-based proxy server to hide his IP address. He used pre-loaded credit cards to make PayPal payments for the misleading calls.

Prescott denies involvement in the affair. He said that he only made legitimate use of RackNine during the campaign and was reimbursed for 6 calls that he paid for out of his pocket worth $1,100. The campaign noted the expense as a payment to Prescott for “salaries and wages.”

The affidavit said another campaign worker, Michael Sona, twice discussed using dirty tricks and was twice warned off it by local and national campaign workers.

A worker at the Conservative’s national campaign headquarters war room, Matthew McBain, said Sona once spoke to him “about a campaign of disinformation such as making a misleading poll moving call.” The affidavit quotes him as saying that he warned off Sona “as the party would not stand for it.”

Guelph campaign worker Christopher Crawford said he overheard a discussion between Sona and the campaign manager Ken Morgan where Sona “was describing ‘how the Americans do politics,’ using the examples of calling non-supporters late at night, pretending to be liberals, or calling electors to tell them their poll location had changed.”

“Crawford said he did not think Sona was serious, but he claims he did say to Sona, before leaving the office that evening that his comments were not appropriate.”

Sona quit abruptly when allegations broke and denied wrongdoing.

Prescott said he gave his information to Sona and Morgan.

"As I’ve said before, we have proactively reached out to Elections Canada and offered to assist them in any way we can. That includes handing over any documents or records that may assist them," Fred Delorey said, stating he would not comment on the affair.

The opposition responded, questioning the Conservative’s denials.

"Unfortunately, despite all the evidence, Conservatives still continue to deny any connection — or even acknowledge that they are under investigation," NDP Ethics critic Charlie Angus said.

Liberal MP Frank Valeriote, who won the seat in Guelph, said, "These calls are part of a sophisticated, systematic Conservative election fraud scheme."

No charges have been laid but it appears that now there is a clear link between the Conservative campaign and the Robocall scandal that occurred last year.

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