An environmental group dedicated to getting voters more involved in politics is being investigated for alleged violations of the Election Act in relation to a candidate's campaign for the leadership of the B.C. NDP.
Elections B.C. and the provincial NDP on Thursday said they were both investigating whether Dogwood improperly contributed to the campaign for Anjali Appadurai, a climate activist and former federal candidate, who is challenging David Eby to become party leader — and ultimately premier.
"The activities are being reviewed to ensure that political contribution rules are being followed," read a statement from the elections office.
"Our review is ongoing, and we have not made any determinations or come to any conclusions in this matter."
Dogwood is accused of effectively donating to Appadurai's campaign by using its resources to encourage people to sign up for NDP memberships and vote in the race.
The group allegedly sent emails and texts in recent weeks encouraging its membership to join the NDP, fundraising and organizing around phone banks and pressing Green Party members to switch parties.
Some of that work could violate rules under the Election Act around third-party contributions to leadership campaigns.
"Only eligible individuals can make political contributions to a leadership contestant. An eligible individual is someone who is a resident of B.C. and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Contributions to leadership contestants are limited to $1,309.09 in 2022," read a statement from Elections B.C.
On Friday, Premier John Horgan said he was seriously concerned about the allegation.
"My concern is that if the process is being violated, then that has an impact on the end result," he said, speaking to reporters at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler, B.C., on Friday.
"I'm confident that the processes and procedures in place are strong," he added. "Any investigations underway don't involve me, and I'll comment on them when they're concluded."
Dogwood spokesperson Kai Nagata told CBC News his group contacted Elections B.C. to inquire about the rules when the race was announced and was told they could communicate to their own membership.
Nagata said Dogwood's goal as an organization is to be politically active and highlight climate issues. He said the group was only encouraging the public to get involved in the leadership vote, not telling them which candidate to vote for afterward.
The probe is one of two surrounding Appadurai's campaign.
The B.C. NDP launched an investigation earlier this month into allegations outside help had offered to pay the $10 membership fee for Appadurai supporters looking to join the party before the deadline to vote in the leadership race. The offer was reportedly made during an Instagram Live.
Under the B.C. Election Act, it is illegal to pay for someone else's party membership.
"Any campaign, candidate or individual who is found to have violated our leadership election rules may be subject to sanctions," read a statement from the party.
"Any violations of the Election Act by third parties or campaigns will be duly reported to Elections B.C."
Voting for the new leader could begin as early as Nov. 13, with results expected by Dec. 3.