The American arm of the Toronto-based WE Charity paid a consulting firm founded by Republican Party strategists in Washington DC over $600,000 last year, the Globe and Mail reports.
According to filings from the Internal Revenue Service, WE Charity paid out $605,853 (USD) to various consultants, including $130,000 to Firehouse Strategies, which was founded by failed presidential nominee Marco Rubio's 2016 campaign strategists.
According to the Firehouse website, the company provides "a full-service public affairs firm that focuses on delivering targeted persuasion campaigns for a wide variety of corporate clients."
The Globe and Mail reached out to Firehouse, wherein Matt Terrill, a partner of the firm, said that they worked primarily on WE's charity events.
"Our efforts were focused on supporting WE Charity’s WE Day events, specifically in key regions in the United States, including Washington, D.C.,” said Terrill. "We represent several Fortune 100 companies, major trade associations and non-profits."
WE Charity founders Marc and Craig Kielburger's testimonies to the Finance Committee raised red flags in multiple fields. Not only did the brothers reveal that Margaret Trudeau, mother of the prime minister, did not receive payment for speaking events until after her son's election, they also folded when being asked by Shadow Finance Minister Pierre Poilievre's questions on whether WE had hired private investigators to dig up dirt on Canadian journalist Jesse Brown.
Firehouse operative Ben Proler attacked Brown's Canadaland a year prior, dismissing the platform as "fake news" in an article in the Southeast Texas Record.
In a statement, Brown told The Globe and Mail that “Firehouse Strategies is known for exactly the kind of covert attack campaigns that Canadaland was targeted by... Why did WE use charitable funds to hire such a firm? WE Charity needs to provide transparency.