Municipal Elections Act may limit investigation of former mayoral candidates
Published Friday, May 3, 2019 6:45PM EDT
The rules are the rules, but wording in the Municipal Elections Act may prove problematic for an audit of two mayoral campaigns.
At city hall on Friday the Compliance Audit Committee gave reasons why they are proceeding with three investigations.
An independent auditor will soon examine if former mayoral candidates Paul Cheng and Paul Paolatto campaigned prior to the official start date of May 1, 2018.
There will also be an audit to determine if Cheng exceeded the limit candidates can contribute to their own campaign.
Alan McQuillan submitted the complaint about Cheng's personal contribution, “There's no ambiguity, it is $25,000. It prohibits anything that exceeds the limitation; it’s not open to interpretation.”
But critical to the process will be how the auditor and committee interpret the Municipal Elections Act.
It turns out the act does not define campaign, so the auditor will instead be limited to investigating what are called election campaign advertisements.
Committee Chair Andrew Wright explains they are, “An advertisement in any broadcast, print or other media that has the purpose of promoting or supporting the election of a candidate.”
At last week's committee meeting, Cheng raised eyebrows by admitting he exceeded the contribution limit by paying back a $20,000 campaign deficit.
But he may avoid a penalty after admitting violating the act was not his “intention.”
If the audit ends up before the courts, the act says intent can be a mitigating factor.
It states, “however, if the presiding judge finds that the candidate, acting in good faith, committed the offence inadvertently, or because of an error in judgement, the penalties described...do not apply."
The Compliance Audit Committee will choose an independent auditor to investigate the complaints at its next meeting.