Mark King says there are key people with the Conservative Party organization that did not want him as the candidate for Nipissing-Timiskaming.
He claimed at a news conference Thursday morning that’s why he’s been removed as the Tory candidate.
King won the nomination over Callander town councillor Jordy Carr 107 to 78 at the June 17th nomination meeting.
King says he felt something was up that night when the party’s North East organizer, Bill Greenberg told him he couldn’t vote at the nomination meeting because his membership within the Conservatives was invalid.
King says according to Greenberg the membership was bought with a corporate credit card making the purchase invalid.
At Thursday’s media event King said he used a business credit card with his name on it to buy the membership and told this to Greenberg.
King says the Conservative Party already had vetted him earlier in time and questions if the membership card was now in question, why did organizers wait until nomination night to point this out.
Despite Greenberg’s objections, King voted at the nomination meeting.
King says he has no proof but believes at some point Greenberg suggested to the Conservative Party’s office of the Executive Director that he had voted improperly.
King says someone at the local level challenged his win to the National Conservative Selection Committee which overturned his nomination victory.
King says he had no knowledge that a challenge was even going on.
Then on June 28th, King learned he had 24 hours to appeal the committee’s decision to the National Council.
But King says he had no idea what form his appeal should take because he wasn’t told what he had done wrong.
Based on the credit card debate, King assumed this could be the bone of contention and got his legal counsel to submit documents showing that a business credit card and not a corporate credit card was used to buy the membership.
That same card was used to buy the memberships of King’s wife, daughter and mother-in-law.
At one point during the nomination night, King’s wife Jocelyn was also told she couldn’t vote but ended up voting.
Despite trying to clarify the credit card issue, King says he was notified on July 3rd that the National Council upheld the selection committee’s ruling.
On Wednesday when King received official word that he was no longer the candidate and that Jordy Carr would replace him, he called Carr.
“I advised her I will withdraw all support for the party,” he said.
“I would not support Jordy Carr in any way shape or form. That was the crux of my phone call to her. My feeling was she was involved in (this) process.”
Asked to comment on King’s claim, Carr, who is the niece of former Premier Mike Harris, said she did nothing wrong and did not want to get involved in a matter that involved King and the party.
“It had nothing to do with me,” she said to MyWestNipissingNow.com in a phone call.
“I wasn’t privy to any information. I just got the email saying I was the candidate. They didn’t tell me what went down. For me, I have to move forward and start a campaign.”
King says throughout this process no one from the riding executive or federal executive contacted him.
When word began getting out that he had been removed as the candidate, he received quite a few emails from party members expressing disbelief.
King says what’s happened is not democracy.
“In my mind it was deceitful, it was underhanded, it was dishonourable, it was unscrupulous and it was improper,” he said.
King says he intends to cancel his Conservative membership and wants his $1,000 back that he paid to the party to run as a candidate.
King says because he hasn’t been told what he did wrong, he maintains the Conservative Party has damaged his reputation.
“This says to the public I did something dishonest or dishonourable,” he said.
“We didn’t do anything wrong.”
MyWestNipissingNow.com asked the Conservative Party to comment on King’s claims.
Cory Hann, the party’s Director of Communication provided a statement through an email.
Hann says “it’s important to the Conservative Party that members can have the utmost confidence in the results of a nomination, knowing the rules were equally applied to all candidates, and all candidates followed the rules to ensure an even playing field.”
Hann says King’s candidacy was disallowed and the National Council upheld the ruling.
He adds the party’s rules and procedures are clear and they apply to all candidates.
Hann says the decision to disallow a candidate is not something the Conservatives take lightly.
Hann says the party is pleased to have Jordy Carr on the Conservative team.
He also says it is standard practice not to state why a candidate is disallowed.
On the issue of King claiming it’s common for people to buy party memberships using a business credit card, Hann disagreed.
Hann says it’s “inaccurate to suggest it’s common practice for people to buy memberships using a business credit card”.
He says people must pay for the membership from their own personal funds which means using a personal credit card.
“This is a Conservative Party rule and more importantly, elections law,” he said.
“If it is discovered that a membership was purchased contrary to that rule/law, that membership or donation, and any others purchased that way, would be ineligible contributions.”
King was asked if he would consider running for another party or as an independent and said he needed to time take in what has just happened before he decides on his next course of action.
King believes as a result of what’s happened, the Conservative Party in Nipissing-Timiskaming has become splintered and what would have been a close race between him and incumbent Liberal MP Anthony Rota won’t materialize.
King says he believes the vote spread between him and Rota would have been around 600 to 700 votes.
King adds he doesn’t believe Carr will do as well and is congratulating Rota right now for winning the October election.