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HomeNewsExclusive: Richmond city councillor who ran for NDP moonlights as party bagman

Exclusive: Richmond city councillor who ran for NDP moonlights as party bagman

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Bob Mackin

Richmond city councillor Chak Kwong Au didn’t win the Richmond South Centre seat for the NDP in last spring’s provincial election. But he hosted Premier John Horgan for a fundraiser last summer and kicked-in $5,000.

A document released under the freedom of information law shows Horgan attended “lunch with Chak Au and guests” on Aug. 25, 2017 at a private dining room. The location was censored by the government for security reasons, but is believed to be in Burnaby. The schedule document includes a list of 22 confirmed guests, including management from Richway New Media Technology, Global Direct Trading Inc. and Global Fibreglass Solutions Canada. 

Richmond Coun. Chak Au lost for the NDP in spring 2017, but hosted a fundraiser in summer 2017. (Facebook)

According to Elections BC returns for 2017, those three companies, and Au himself, each donated $5,000 to the NDP, but the date listed in the Elections BC database is Sept. 13, 2017. The NDP returns do not include an Elections BC Fundraising Function report for either Aug. 25 or Sept. 13. 

Also on Sept. 13, 2017, the NDP reported $5,000 donations from Hui Zhang, Saltwater City Holdings and Yan Wang; $4,000 from Lai Fong Hui, $2,500 each from Xiao Jun Hao and Xue Wei Gong; and $2,000 from Top Western. All of the above donations total $46,000. 

At the Aug. 25 event, Horgan spent 15 minutes posing for photographs with guests and speaking for 15 minutes before lunch. He then participated in what was billed as an “open dialogue.” 

Horgan’s press secretary, Sheena McConnell, is listed on the document. Instead of commenting, she referred theBreaker to party communications manager Heather Libby. Libby did not respond.

One of the Aug. 25 guests was Guo Ding, a commentator and producer with Rogers-owned Omni TV. The NDP government appointed Ding at the end of December to the board of the Professional College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists. 

Au did not respond to theBreaker’s request for comment. His $5,000 NDP donation is worth just under one month’s salary at Richmond city council, where he is paid $61,353-a-year. Au is also a professional family therapist with Vancouver Coastal Health in Richmond. 

Meanwhile, the NDP appears to have raised as much as $52,500 from a controversial event at the home of a Surrey trucking company owner last Sept. 6. 

The host of the event was Kulwant Dhesi, owner of the Dhesi Enterprises trucking and logistics firm. Dhesi made a $10,000 donation to the BC Liberals, but it appears in the Elections BC database as Oct. 17, 2017. 

Sims, Horgan, Hepner and Meggs in Surrey Sept. 6.

There were also $5,000 donations from Padda Enterprises, Jasjeet Bhullar, Baltej Samra, Dhillon Designs Ltd., R.S. Gill Express Ltd., Raja Trailers and Equipment Sales, Shergill Transport and Super Fast Trucking and $2,500 from Raj Khela Real Estate. There is no Fundraising Function form for either Sept. 6 or Oct. 17. Dhesi declined comment when contacted by theBreaker

The BC Liberals slammed Horgan, chief of staff Geoff Meggs and Citizens Services Minister Jinny Sims for posing at that event in a group photograph with Maninder Gill and Jawahar Padda. Gill is the former Radio India manager appealing aggravated assault and weapons convictions over a shooting outside a Surrey temple in 2010. Padda is a pizzeria owner who is scheduled to appear May 22 in Surrey Provincial Court on charges of pointing a firearm, uttering threats and unlawful confinement. 

At the time, Horgan said that he was not privy to the invitation list, but would be more careful in future. 

“I abhor what [Gill] has done and he has been convicted and he will pay the price for that,” Horgan said.

While in opposition, the Horgan-led NDP often criticized BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark for holding similar events where attendees made large donations in order to have an audience with the premier. Last fall, the NDP banned corporations and unions from donating, and set a $1,200 annual limit for donations by individuals who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. 

The new law also includes new rules for reporting fundraising events and for a $100-per-person cap on admission to fundraisers at a private residence.

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