Paolatto pushing back as audit of 2018 campaign stretches into 2020
LONDON, ONT. -- Former mayoral candidate Paul Paolatto calls it “ridiculous” that an election compliance audit launched in April may not end until next spring.
In his first interview about the election compliance audit of his 2018 campaign to be mayor of London, Paolatto says he's angry that his first opportunity to meet with auditor William Molson will be in January.
That’s a full nine months after a committee decided that an audit was warranted, "When the committee made their decision, they probably should have put 'Merry Christmas' at the end of it," he says.
The audit stems from a complaint that his blog - ThePaolattoReport.com - and billboards advertising the blog, may have constituted campaigning before the official start of the campaign period.
Paolatto denies the accusations, having first checked with the city clerk and a lawyer.
He warns the threat of lengthy audits could scare away future candidates, “I've been sitting patiently for this period of time, and now I’ve decided to lean into this process and I am going to make it very clear to people what I'm going through to make sure the next guy doesn't have to go through it.”
Former mayoral candidate Paul Cheng is the subject of two compliance audits. But he tells CTV News Friday that he has not been contacted by the auditor since the audits were launched in April.
Londoner Lincoln McCardle filed the complaint against Paolatto and two complaints against Cheng. He recently spoke to the auditor, who hopes to be finished by March 2020.
“What I said to him is I would rather this be done correctly than quickly so by all means take your time with the hope that it will be done before the next municipal election.”
Paolatto says the process has exposed serious weaknesses in the Municipal Elections Act, “Clearly the rules are not well defined, and it’s time that we come out from the shadows and start exposing it to people because it needs to change.”
Auditor William Molson will not discuss his work to date, but agreed to speak about the timeline, “There are real resource challenges, and of course when you have a provincial election and federal election before and after, it jams everybody up time-wise.”
Molson goes on to say that he does not charge a monthly fee. City hall will only be billed for work to conduct the audits.
When the reports are finished, the three-member Compliance Audit Committee will have 30 days to decide if it will pursue legal options.
Paolatto adds the lengthy process has sparked more than just his frustration, “It's motivated me to consider office again, because if nothing else, it's told me that somebody needs to change this and perhaps it’s going to need to come from somebody like me.”