News Politics

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Helicopter dash and attack ad in Casey presidential election expenses

Peter Casey. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Peter Casey. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A helicopter dash around three counties and a campaign attack ad making claims about dog grooming costs in Áras an Uachtaráin are included in €119,911 election spending by Peter Casey.

The former 'Dragons' Den' star got all of his declared election costs reimbursed by the State as he won a large enough share of the votes to qualify for getting his money back.

President Michael D Higgins is the only other candidate who was eligible for any reimbursement of expenses.

The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that Mr Casey claimed €1,875 in election expenses for communications training he got after the October 26, 2018, polling day.

The training was carried out by the business owned by PR expert Theresa Lowe - the sister of one of Mr Casey's rivals for the presidency, Senator Joan Freeman. It was done ahead of Mr Casey's appearance on 'The Late Late Show' on November 2.

Mr Casey apologised and said he is paying the money back. He said the expenses claim was "an error" by a staff member.

It was among spending of €42,776 on publicity during the campaign, including €14,145 with Bannerton Public Relations which handled his media queries during the campaign. Mr Casey spent a further €5,535 with the company for "secretarial services".

A helicopter was hired by the campaign on September 10 when three local authorities in Monaghan, Galway and Offaly were meeting to hear from would-be presidential candidates seeking to get on the ballot paper. The day of flights cost €6,500 with a company called 21st Century Aviation. Ultimately, Mr Casey won the support of four different councils to secure his nomination.

Mr Casey's campaign spent a combined €3,400 on car hire for BMWs used during the campaign.

A total of €25,778.86 was spent on advertising including €2,590 on four campaign videos from a US-based business.

The videos included an attack ad that Mr Casey posted on social media claiming - without providing evidence - that Mr Higgins spent €10,000 in taxpayers' money on dog grooming. Mr Higgins repeatedly rejected this during the campaign and said the costs associated with his dogs are paid from his own pocket.

At one point in the campaign, Mr Higgins accused Mr Casey of running "black advertisements" imported from the United States.

Mr Casey has said that an audit of his election expenses showed an additional €5,000 of expenses that could have been claimed but was not.

Irish Independent

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