But nothing has ever been proven by law
Lino Zambito, the star witness of the Charbonneau Commission, admits publicly that he picked up political donations for the defunct Democratic Action Party of Mario Dumont and for fundraiser Leo Housakos, who today is a Conservative senator in Ottawa.
Zambito made the statements in front of a Radio Canada camera without the legal protection had he made the same remarks in testimony before the Charbonneau commission investigating corruption in the Quebec construction industry.
Zambito said on television that he picked up about $ 20,000 to $25 000 a year for the ADQ. But because the Quebec electoral law forbids donations from companies and limits political contributions to $ 3,000 a year, Zambito says he had to use ‘straw men’ (prête-noms) who were sometimes members of his own family.
Zambito explained: "We went to see our employees, we went to see our family, we asked them for a cheque and these people were reimbursed," he said in his television interview.
Zambito added that in 2008 Leo Housakos, now a Conservative senator, asked him to help financially Mario Dumont’s ADQ party.
" Housakos asked me if I could give them a hand to collect $30,000 a year.
"It was more to give a helping hand to Housakos who was still in the ADQ. He had links to federal government, "said Zambito.
Zambito said that he figured if ever the ADQ came to power that money would be coming back to contributing construction contractors.
"If ever the ADQ took power in Quebec, he (Housakos) would be able to give me a hand at the provincial level. That was clear! "
Zambito also said that Housakos later asked him to help finance the federal Conservative campaign of Claude Carignan, a promising candidate on the team Harper in Quebec.
Zambito said he asked: "How much do you want? » and Housakos replied: «If you could give me $3,000, I'll be happy. »
"So I asked my father, my mother, and they both scratched out an $ 1100 cheque and I scratched a cheque and gave it to him. "
Zambito said in the television interview that he gave money to Housakos because he had “influence in Ottawa” and because Housakos was "one of the main guys."
" Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," added Zambito.
Carignan lost the election, but Harper appointed him to the Senate where it sits to this day along with his friend Housakos who was also appointed to the Senate by Harper.
And last month Harper appointed Carignan the new Conservative Government leader in the Senate, which puts Carignan in charge of preventing corruption in Conservatives Senate ranks.
Leo Housakos and Claude Carignan both refused to speak on camera to contradict the unproven accusations of Zambito which have never been tried before a court of law.
But through statements by their lawyers, both senators deny they have ever acted unlawfully in their lives.