Independent ACT candidate Anthony Pesec has hit back against claims his campaign received funding from GetUp and unions, revealing he has poured $65,000 of his own money into his tilt at the Senate.
Mr Pesec is making the major donors to his campaign public after learning Liberal party volunteers told voters he was funded by UnionsACT and left wing activist group GetUp.
The renewable energy investor and former engineer has revealed he has funded more than half of his campaign's $118,000 spending with his own money.
Mr Pesec's campaign also received $15,000 from Alex Turnbull, who the candidate knows through a common interest in renewables. Another $25,000 donation came from newly-registered company Climate 200, which is based in Sydney at restructure and crisis management firm DEM Asia Group, and directed by DEM Asia's managing director Damien Hodgkinson.
Senate running mate, campaign chairman and former Liberal party member Gary Kent has contributed $3000 in funding to Mr Pesec's campaign. Mr Pesec's Senate run has drawn another $10,000 from 20 donors giving between $5 and $1500.
Mr Pesec has described as false the claims that he received funding from GetUp, UnionsACT and the Labor party. All three groups said they did not contribute funding to Mr Pesec's campaign.
The independent candidate, running on a platform of climate change action, is seen as a credible challenger to the Liberal party's grip on the ACT's second Senate seat as Liberal senator Zed Seselja faces backlash for his conservative stances in the last parliament.
Mr Pesec has made the sources of his campaign funding public long before the electoral commission will reveal donations to federal election candidates.
Mr Kent complained to Liberal party ACT division general secretary Stephen Pratt in April, asking that candidates stop repeating false claims Mr Pesec was funded by GetUp, UnionsACT and the Labor party.
"These assertions are false and demonstrably untrue. Should we become aware that such assertions continue to be made, we will instruct our legal advisers in this matter, and pursue our rights with the Australian Electoral Commission," he wrote.
When asked about the complaint, a Liberals campaign spokesman said Mr Kent was pushing conspiracy theories.
"Nonetheless, we have invited Mr Pesec to reveal who is funding his campaign and what collaboration there is with extreme-left groups like GetUp and union bosses, and eagerly await him coming clean."
In a reply to Mr Kent's letter, Mr Pratt did not deny his complaint and called on him to reveal who was funding Mr Pesec's campaign.
"Once comprehensive details of Mr Pesec's donors have been provided, I would be happy to ensure Canberra Liberals candidates and MLAs are adequately informed and can talk with ACT voters about the precise nature of Mr Pesec's so-called independent campaign," he said.
"Until such a time, these are valid questions to be asked by the Canberra Liberals and the broader community."
Mr Kent later told Mr Pratt his response showed the Liberal party's management tolerated, if not encouraged, its members spreading false rumours about Mr Pesec.
Mr Pesec is advocating real-time disclosure of funding for political campaigns.
"It's quite annoying that the Liberals make false claims on my funding whilst having skeletons in their own closet," he said.
Correction: Anthony Pesec received $25,000 in campaign contributions from Climate 200, a NSW-based company registered in April and based at restructure and crisis management firm DEM Asia Group. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr Pesec received the donation from not-for-profit research centre the Climate Outcomes Foundation. The incorrect information was provided by Mr Pesec.