ORNGE: Alf Apps May Have Engaged in Lobbying, Integrity Commissioner Says

Update:  see previous posts – April 25, 2012 ORNGE: ORNGE Execs’ Girlfriend, Daughter Did $6.7-million Report Using Google, April 21, 2012 ORNGE: Star’s ORNGE Investigations Nominated for Michener Award, April 20, 2012 ORNGE: Warrant To Be Generated To Compel Dr. Chris Mazza to Appear Before Queen’s Park Committee, March 31, 2012 ORNGE: Health Minister Considered Turning Funding Tap Off to ORNGE, March 27, 2012 ORNGE – Should Liberal Health Minister Deb Matthews Accept Responsibility For the ORNGE Scandal?, March 23, 2012 ORNGE – Liberals Refuse To Release Salaries of ORNGE Executives on Sunshine List, March 22, 2012 ORNGE: Ontario’s Auditor General Uncovers More Questionable Deals at ORNGE Air Ambulance Service, March 21, 2012 ORNGE: Former Ontario Liberal Health Minister Blames Ministry Officials and Board for Scandal at ORNGE, March 17, 2012 ORNGE: Auditor General Jim McCarter to Release Probe Wednesday, March 12, 2012 ORNGE: Ontarians Expected to Pay An Annual Tab of $22 Million (in addition to $150 Million) for ORNGE, March 9, 2012 ORNGE: Too Many Needless Government Agencies in Ontario, March 8, 2012 ORNGE: Demotes Top Executive Who Lied About Possessing Master of Business Administration Degree, March 7, 2012 ORNGE – Current Health Minister (Deb Matthews) Blames Former Health Minister (George Smitherman), March 6, 2012 ORNGE – Helicopters’ Tail Rotors Could Fall Off, says Frank Klees, March 5, 2012 ORNGE – How Much Did Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews Really Know?, March 2, 2012 ORNGE – Sells Gift (Chopper) from AugustaWestland Valued at $50K for $30,001.01, March 1, 2012 ORNGE – Ontario Opposition Parties Call On McGuinty to Have All-Party Probe of ORNGE, March 1, 2012 ORNGE – Some ORNGE Helicopters Unable to Enter U.S.A. Airspace, February 28, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Official Says He Lied About His MBA, February 28, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Fiasco could Hurt Ontario’s Ability to Cut Deficit: Former Deputy Health Minister, February 24, 2012 ORNGE – Where’s the $25 Million Dollars?, February 22, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Mistakes Disrupt Patient Care/Safety, February 22, 2012 ORNGE – Cohn: ORNGE leaves a black mark on Deb Matthews’ ambitious health reforms February 21, 2012 ORNGE – Minister of Health Refuses to Resign Over the ORNGE Scandal February 21, 2012, ORNGE – ORNGE Executives Let Taxpayers Down: Dalton McGuinty, February 19, 2012 ORNGE – Message to 400 ORNGE Employees “Shut Up or Face Criminal Charges & Jail Time”, February 16, 2012 ORNGE – Ontario Provincial Police Set to Investigate ORNGE, February 13, 2012 ORNGE Founder Chris Mazza Used Air Ambulance Expertise for His Own Business Interests, February 12, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Gave $1.2 million in Loans (One for a House), Plus a Huge Cash Advance, to Founder Dr. Chris Mazza Over the Past 18 Months, February 10, 2012 ORNGE – Did Alf Apps Quit Fasken Martineau or Did Fasken Martineau Quit Alf Apps?, February 8, 2012 ORNGE Scandal Teaches Belated Lessons, February 7. 2012 ORNGE – Dr. Chris Mazza, February 4, 2012 ORNGE – Paid Fasken Martineau Lawyer’s $9 Million Dollars Between 2006-2012, February 3, 2012 ORNGE – Auditor Warned Province Four Years Ago that ORNGE was “Handing Out Money Like Water”, February 3, 2012 ORNGE – Dr. Chris Mazza/Maria Renzella Terminated Without Severance, January 30, 2012 ORNGE’s Travel Medical Plan Targeted Those With $20 Million in Net Worth, January 28, 2012 Doctor Chris Mazza on Extended Indefinite Medical Leave – Needs to Answer Million$ of Questions, January 28, 2012 ORNGE Transports Patients In Dangerously Designed ORNGE Helicopters, January 26, 2012 ORNGE – ORNGE Foundation Charity Shut-Down and Closed, January 26, 2012 ORNGE – Has Appointed a New Board of Directors, January 24, 2012 ORNGE – 18 Middle-Management & Charity Program Cut, January 22, 2012 ORNGE architect George Smitherman brokered meeting between Korean officials and ORNGE, January 16, 2012 ORNGE – “The Jig is Up”, December 29, 2011 There Are Some Red Faces at ORNGE, December 27, 2011 ORNGE Hires New Spin Doctor, December 26, 2011 Doctor’s Salary Quadruples In Four (4) Years to $1.4 Million, December 20, 2011 Wanted: Paramedics for Emergency Flights on ORNGE’s Air Ambulance Helicopters, December 6, 2011 Orangeh Gonna Tell The Taxpayers How Much of Their Money You’ve Spent on Yourself ?

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Ontario’s integrity commissioner has raised the possibility that former federal Liberal party president Alfred Apps lobbied for ORNGE without registering. TANYA TALAGA/TORONTO STAR

Ontario’s integrity commissioner has raised the possibility that former federal Liberal party president Alfred Apps lobbied for ORNGE without registering, the Star has learned.

In a letter to Apps on Feb. 3, 2012 regarding correspondence with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s office and two senior Ministry of Health officials, Integrity Commissioner Lynn Morrison said “it is my opinion that when you were communicating with public office holders to arrange a meeting, you were engaged in lobbying and should have registered.”

Related: Cohn: ORNGE mess a sorry tale of bad judgment, human error

At the time, Apps was a lawyer at Fasken Martineau who worked on behalf of ORNGE. On Wednesday, Fasken partner Lynn Golding told an all-party legislative committee investigating ORNGE that the firm billed 22,000 hours of legal advice.

Fasken Martineau’s regional managing partner, Martin Denyes, had requested an advisory opinion from Morrison about “whether certain activities” Apps was engaged in were lobbying within the meaning of the Lobbyists Registration Act, the Feb. 3 letter states.

Apps told the Star that Morrison’s inquiry referred to emails Apps sent in Dec., 2010 and it was “based entirely on the assumption that I or Faskens was compensated” for sending emails.

“Neither I nor Faskens were compensated for the time spent on the emails in question and I was not engaged as a lobbyist consultant to charge fees for such purposes,” he wrote in an email to the Star.

Morrison wrote that she assumed “Mr. Apps (through Fasken) was paid by ORNGE for the activities evidenced in the emails” and if that assumption was incorrect her opinion would change.

Last week, Apps told the public accounts committee probing high salaries and questionable payments at the air ambulance service that he “never lobbied this government for anything in respect to ORNGE.”

The law firm made $9,547,439 total from 2003 to 2012 on fees billed to ORNGE entities, documents obtained Wednesday show.

Golding is a member of the Conservative Party of Canada; she is also married to Treasury Board president Tony Clement.

Golding also said the Ministry of Health had all the power it needed over ORNGE and she had “no idea” how Health Minister Deb Matthews got the idea she didn’t have what she needed to control the service.

Last month, Auditor General Jim McCarter slammed the provincial government for throwing $50 million in funding increases at ORNGE over five years but not checking how the money was being spent.

It was also revealed at the hearing Wednesday that Don Guy, director of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s election campaign, billed Fasken $107,887.50 for consulting on ORNGE when he was out of government.

Former ORNGE board chair Rainer Beltzner also spoke to the committee Wednesday. He said he never discussed ORNGE-related business with his daughter, Carrie Anne Brunet, a junior executive at the service.

A Starexclusive on Wednesday revealed Brunet and Kelly Long, the girlfriend of ORNGE founder Dr. Chris Mazza, did the small amount of research that brought the air ambulance’s for-profit arm a $6.7 million payment. Using Google and other tools, the pair investigated possibilities for Agusta Westland and determined that Brazil and Saudia Arabia were two places that needed air ambulance services.

Beltzner, a chartered accountant, was briefly asked about the controversial $6.7-million payment from the Italian helicopter firm AgustaWestland. The payment was made after ORNGE purchased 12 helicopters at a cost of $144 million, a deal financed with taxpayers’ money.

Photos: For a gallery of the major players, click here.

That payment is now under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.

When PC MPP Frank Klees asked Beltzner how Brunet got her job, Beltzner said “she applied for a position at ORNGE in response to an advertisement.”

Brunet had been “out of the house for many, many years” and working in a variety of responsible positions, Beltzner added.

When Klees asked him about the $6.7-million “consulting fee,” Beltzner responded, “My daughter and I did not discuss ORNGE business.”

A warrant from Speaker of the legislature, Dave Levac, has been delivered for Mazza to appear on May 16.

Matthews has repeatedly said she was “lied to on several occasions, on a variety of subjects, by the senior leadership at ORNGE including the chairman of the board.”

Eventually — after a series of investigative articles in the Toronto Star — Matthews said she told the board of directors, many of whom were also paid “retainers” as high as $200,000, “their house of cards was about to fall.”

The Beltzner-led board eventually resigned — but Matthews could not force them to, claiming she did not have the power as the entity was federally incorporated. Once the board resigned in January, Matthews sought greater legislative powers to give her better control over ORNGE.

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