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April 27, 2005
Coffin: Adscam Used Front Agencies

Paul Coffin testified under the publication ban on the Sponsorship Program scandal, and provided yet more blockbuster testimony -- which Justice Gomery released for immediate publication this time. Coffin testified that Chuck Guit and other federal bureaucrats deliberately set up front agencies to hide the direction of government contracts to companies with strong Liberal Party ties:

Federal bureaucrats awarded a highly-sensitive contract to promote Ottawa's Clarity Act to a low-profile Montreal ad agency, hiding the fact that the campaign was actually subcontracted to Groupe BCP, a firm with well-known Liberal ties, testimony released Wednesday reveal. ...

--Mr. Coffin's firm twice was retained by bureaucrats to act as a front and pretend to do work that was in fact farmed out to BCP, a Liberal-friendly firm, and Gingko Group, an ineligible ad agency

--Mr. Coffin lied in his application to get his firm, Communication Coffin, selected as one of the agencies managing federal sponsorships. And the very day his agency was selected, he received hefty federal contracts right away

--He agreed with Judge Gomery's suggestion that he submitted deceptive invoices at the request of Chuck Guit, the bureaucrat who ran the sponsorship program, as a way to circumvent the normal tender process.

Even when he was supposed to be paid a flat fee, Mr. Coffin said he was told by Mr. Guit to bill by the hours, under a loosely-defined category called production costs.

Coffin's testimony shows that the corruption extended so far into the government that even the career bureaucrats understood the scam and furthered it on behalf of the Liberals. Coffin received plenty of cash for his front in the scam; he received $86,000 just to secretly redirect work to Groupe BCP. He also picked up almost twice that amount to serve as a beard for Gingko, an agency that never received certification to do government contracts.

Guit has plenty to worry about if Coffin keeps going in this direction. Guit is the only government employee facing corruption charges -- at least so far -- and Coffin apparently dealt closely with him. Coffin, in fact, submitted fictitious invoices on a regular basis, apparently encouraged to do so by Guit in order to make sure that the Sponsorship Program money had been thoroughly fleeced. Canadians will be surprised to learn that not only did Liberal Party functionaries loot the program, but they conscientiously went back over the books to ensure that every last dime went out the door and into the waiting pockets of Liberal cronies.

Coffin continues his testimony tomorrow. Guit has to wonder what more damage he can possibly do.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 27, 2005 4:00 PM

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