N.B. Liquor president relieved conflict-of-interest hearings are over

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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FREDERICTON - A two-day hearing into allegations of conflict of interest against NB Liquor president and CEO Dana Clendenning wrapped up Tuesday with the Court of Queen's Bench judge reserving judgment.
"I am glad it is over, for sure," Clendenning said afterwards. "I think it was a fair hearing."
He said it was a long two days.
"All we can do now is wait for the judge's decision and we will abide by whatever that decision might be," said Clendenning. "I am feeling pretty good."
"You never know what is going to happen in a situation like this."
Clendenning declined to answer reporters' questions about whether he would step down if Riordon ruled that he had violated the province's Conflict of Interest Act.
Nor would he answer questions about the specifics of the case, such as whether he regretted not having a written, rather than a verbal, contract with Fredericton businessman Barry O'Donnell.
O'Donnell brought the charge of conflict of interest against Clendenning that triggered the hearing.
In his testimony, O'Donnell claimed that in March 2005 he and Clendenning reached a verbal agreement that Clendenning would be paid $2,500 a month to help O'Donnell's Fredericton-based call company, Connect North America, get millions of dollar in support from Business New Brunswick if the Liberals won the 2006 election.
Clendenning was executive director of the New Brunswick Liberal Association at the time.
The Tories were in power at the time of the deal and O'Donnell testified that Clendenning's monthly fee would rise to $4,000 a month if the Liberals won the next election.
Clendenning didn't deny that his company, Stellaris Communications, was being paid $2,500 a month by Connect North America.
But he said that was for the sale to O'Donnell of a Bathurst call centre he owned in March 2005. The money was also for ongoing consulting work with Connect North America, he said.
Clendenning testified the amount was supposed to go up by $4,000 if he ever left his part-time job with the Liberals and he had more time to do additional consulting work for O'Donnell.
He said he received money from O'Donnell after he became the head of NB Liquor in October 2006, but that was for work done earlier in the year.
Former Business New Brunswick minister Greg Byrne, who was Clendenning's lawyer on the deal to sell the Bathurst call centre company to O'Donnell, testified Tuesday that he followed the normal procedures when dealing with Connect North America.
"I was not pressured in any way by Mr. Clendenning or lobbied," he said.

Organizations: Queen's, New Brunswick Liberal Association, Stellaris Communications

Geographic location: FREDERICTON

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