Politics

Conservatives warn Clarke campaign over 'potential unauthorized use' of internal database

Prospective Saskatchewan Party leadership candidate Rob Clarke.

Greg Pender / The StarPhoenix

The federal Conservatives sent a warning to Saskatchewan Party leadership candidate Rob Clarke’s campaign after learning about a “potential unauthorized use” of its internal database.

“Our privacy policy on the use of our data is very clear, it’s not to be shared with anyone outside the Conservative Party of Canada,” Conservative spokesman Cory Hann said in an email. 

“(We) communicated with the Rob Clarke Campaign informing them that if they’re in possession of an unauthorized list obtained from our database, they’re to cease using this list, destroy any hard copies, and delete any electronic copies,” Hann added.

Reached by phone, Clarke described the incident as a “miscommunication” and said there is no way the data in question came from the party. Clarke said he has for years kept multiple lists of voters and supporters, separate from the party.

The Conservatives learned about the possible data breach earlier this week, after Sharlene Beaulieu, who worked for Clarke while he was a federal MP, sent an email with the subject line “CIMS list” to his personal email address.

CIMS is the acronym for the Conservatives’ Constituent Information Management System, a famously comprehensive database of party supporters and donors across the country. 

The email, a copy of which was obtained by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, contained more than 200 email addresses, which appeared to have been copied and pasted into the “carbon copy” field rather than the body of the message. 

Reached by phone, Beaulieu confirmed that she sent the email and erroneously copied the addresses into the “CC” field. She said Clarke had called her and asked for the information. 

“It’s just stuff that I have in my computer,” said Beaulieu, who identified herself as a supporter of Ken Cheveldayoff’s Sask. Party leadership bid. She was described by a Meadow Lake Now report in September as a Cheveldayoff event co-organizer.

“As far as I understand, it’s public information. It’s a list that I had. It wasn’t a private list. I didn’t have a special number to get the list; I didn’t have a special ID or password or anything. It’s just a list,” Beaulieu added. 

Clarke said he deleted the email once he saw its contents because he “didn’t think that was right.”

Clarke is one of six people vying to replace Premier Brad Wall. The others are Cheveldayoff, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Alanna Koch, Scott Moe and Gord Wyant. The party is expected to choose its next leader on Jan. 27.

amacpherson@postmedia.com
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