A firm headed by the man just reappointed as campaign manager for Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals has received almost $3 million in contracts from various Ontario government departments and bodies ranging from Wynne’s own office to the Ontario Energy Board.
A review of contract information obtained through freedom of information requests at Queen’s Park shows Gandalf Group, headed by Liberal strategist David Herle, has been awarded contracts worth roughly $2.7 million since Wynne became premier. The figure is an incomplete one as some departments have failed to fully answer requests for information while one, Ontario Power Generation, only released hourly rates paid to Herle and his associates.
Ontario residents fuming over high electrical bills will likely not be impressed to find out that Wynne’s campaign manager and another top employee at Gandalf billed OPG at $420 per hour. Other employees who do work for OPG are billed out at between $105 and $270 per hour.
This information was obtained by The Rebel through several freedom of information filings earlier this year after discovering that Wynne’s own department paid Herle’s Gandalf Group $885,755 in the fiscal year that ended March 31. At the time the premier responded that many polling firms receive government contracts while failing to point out that Gandalf was the only polling firm contracted by her office.
When the news broke in June, the legislature erupted with claims that this was Wynne using taxpayers’ money to reward friends.
"The Liberals and this premier will do absolutely anything to hold onto power," PC Leader Patrick Brown said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was equally scathing of the premier, saying:
”Her priority is always the Liberal party and well-connected Liberals.”
In addition to the $885,755 paid out by Wynne’s office to her campaign manager’s firm, Gandalf Group was also awarded contracts by the finance department worth $400,000 and the Ontario Energy Board worth $347,522.15 though that agency says it only paid out $90,525.
The Globe and Mail had earlier reported on Gandalf Group being paid $1.1 million from the taxpayer funded Liberal Caucus Services.
A request from OPG for contract tallies instead of hourly rates has not been received at this point.
Gandalf Group defends the contracts as being awarded in a proper manner.
“These projects were awarded after selection processes conducted by the government agencies,” said Alex Swann. “Vendors’ proposals were scored against multiple criteria as part of a competitive request-for-services bidding process.”