Gas plants defence fund now tops $60K for former...
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Jan 25, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Gas plants defence fund now tops $60K for former Liberal aide

Laura Miller, who resigned as executive director of the British Columbia Liberals the night before being charged, has welcomed assistance from people across the political spectrum

OurWindsor.Ca

Fundraising efforts to help pay the legal bills of a former Liberal aide charged in connection with the gas plants affair have brought in more than $60,000.

A month after Laura Miller’s family members set up a private FundRazr defence fund to cover her hefty lawyers’ tab, 83 people had donated $62,081 as of Friday — almost two-thirds of the $100,000 goal.

Miller, 36, who was Dalton McGuinty’s last deputy chief of staff, and David Livingston, 63, the former premier’s chief of staff, were charged Dec. 17 with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data, and misuse of a computer system.

The pair appears in a Toronto court Wednesday. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Miller and Livingston, who deny any wrongdoing, were charged after an Ontario Provincial Police anti-rackets probe of wiped hard drives related to power plants McGuinty cancelled in Mississauga and Oakville before the 2011 election.

The former premier, who left office three years next month, was never under investigation and cooperated with the police probe.

According to documents filed in court by the OPP, Livingston allegedly gave a special computer password to contractor Peter Faist, Miller’s common-law spouse.

That enabled the computer specialist to wipe hard drives in the premier’s office in early 2013 when McGuinty was leaving office.

Faist, who has denied doing anything wrong and faces no charges, was paid $10,000 by the Liberals for his work. The Grits later repaid that amount to the treasury because it came from a taxpayer-funded caucus budget.

Both the opposition Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats claim the Liberals axed the gas-fired power plants, which were controversial locally, to retain five Oakville and Mississauga-area ridings in the October 2011 election.

The Oakville project was cancelled in October 2010 and the Mississauga facility the following September, less than a fortnight before voting day.

Livingston, a Bay Street veteran, has the means to cover his own legal bills, but Miller, who resigned as executive director of the British Columbia Liberals the night before being charged, has welcomed the assistance from friends, family, and people across the political spectrum.

She has hired well-known lawyer Clayton Ruby to defend her.

A Conservative, who made an anonymous donation to her fund, told the Star he wanted to help the Liberal operative out of concern for the precedent being set by the case.

“She was working for the government at the time, not as a private citizen, so it’s outrageous she’d have to cover her own legal fees,” said the Tory, adding that “at the very least the Ontario Liberal Party should be helping her.”

“We’re basically saying to (political) staffers that if the s--- hits the fan, you’re on your own. How’s any party going to get good staff?”

While Miller did not return messages seeking comment, earlier this month she said she had been overwhelmed by the response to the appeal for help.

“Friends and family, former colleagues and adversaries, and perfect strangers have been incredibly generous and kind,” she said Jan. 5.

“I am so thankful for the notes of encouragement, the contributions in support, and everything in-between.”

Toronto Star

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