$30,000 in payments to Tory MPP raises ‘troubling questions’

A Tory MPP accepting $30,000 from a then-lover — when he was pushing for a transit station near his family business — “raises a lot of troubling questions,” says Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca.

“What did Doug Ford know? It’s really important for the premier’s office, and for the premier, to clear the air about what they knew about this — and how they intend to deal with it,” Del Duca said Monday.

As first disclosed by the Star, Progressive Conservative MPP Natalia Kusendova (Mississauga Centre) is being sued by a former romantic partner who alleged she owes him $30,000.

Kusendova, who received 13 wire transfers between December 2018 and December 2019 — ranging from $500 to $9,500 — said the $30,369 in cash was “a gift” from Grant Gorchynski, an Oakville chartered accountant.

But in Ontario Superior Court filings, which have not been proven in court, Gorchynski alleged she “leveraged her political power for personal gain” and “consistently abused her position as MPP and requested loans.”

The two met four years ago when he was advocating — so far without success — for a new station on the forthcoming Hurontario LRT, near a Mississauga office building owned by his family.

While Kusendova stressed “all applicable laws were followed,” NDP MPP Taras Natyshak (Essex) has written to the province’s integrity commissioner demanding answers.

“Natalia Kusendova says she was being lobbied by Grant Gorchynski to build an LRT stop in front of his family businesses,” said Natyshak.

“She also says she accepted $30,000 from him. People think that smells fishy, and I completely understand why.”

Sources close to Ford, speaking confidentially in order to reveal internal discussions, said the premier was not aware of the payments or of the lawsuit until Kusendova told his office last Wednesday.

Her call alerting Ford’s office apparently came shortly after she was asked about the court case by a Star reporter.

Kusendova’s statement of defence said Gorchynski “got involved with her romantically for the sole purpose of lobbying for the LRT stop … and exploiting her political office to do so.”

In an interview last week, she called it “a smear campaign” before the June 2 election.

“He’s a disgruntled ex-boyfriend who reappeared in my life when I got engaged,” said Kusendova.

“Like many young Ontarians who receive help with student loans from family and loved ones, my ex-partner provided me the means to pay off my remaining student debt,” she said.

Gorchynski, whose legal action seeks damages totalling $50,500, said he was merely giving someone he was “casually dating” the “interest-free loans” to help her.

“I’d tell her, ‘We’re not in a relationship. You should be dating other people.’ I am now happily engaged and I love my fiancée,” he said.

His court filings depict a mercurial relationship with late nights of drinking, suggestive texts, travel, and repeated arguments about “romantic exclusivity.”

In her statement of defence, Kusendova said “given her personal values and position in public office … (she) was not interested in an open relationship.”

Gorchynski said the two were brought together by his bid to get a station added to the 19-stop, 18-kilometre light rail transit (LRT) route, now known as the Hazel McCallion Line, running from Port Credit to Brampton.

In his complaint to the integrity commissioner, Natyshak said he has “reasonable and probably grounds to believe” Kusendova “may have contravened … the Members’ Integrity Act.”

Under that law, MPPs “shall not accept a fee, gift or personal benefit that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office.”

In Kusendova’s publicly available financial disclosure for 2018 and 2019, she listed “no assets” and, under liabilities, “national student loans,” and a TD Bank line of credit.

But there was no mention of the cash payments from Gorchynski under “gifts and personal benefits.”

Because MPPs are not required to disclose gifts from spouses or romantic partners, Kusendova has said no rules were broken.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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