Paolatto slams cost to taxpayers after audit of campaign dropped
LONDON, ONT. -- An audit of runner-up Paul Paolatto’s 2018 mayoral campaign will not be sent to the courts, after city hall’s Compliance Audit Committee ruled there were no substantial violations.
Compliance Audit Committee Member Dan Ross explained, "I don’t believe there was any intent to obfuscate the legislation or good election practice."
And Chair Andrew Wright said, "Neither the public interest nor any municipal purpose would be served commencing legal proceedings."
Auditor Wiliam Molson explained to the committee that legal interpretation of the Municipal Elections Act is ever evolving, and their decision would likely set a precedent.
"What do you do with a deficit? And this is really significant. When you make a decision here, I would submit that the committee is probably making law," Molson told them.
Two years and one day after the election, the three-member committee unanimously voted to end the investigation into a complaint filed by Londoner Lincoln McCardle.
Molson suggested that because items weren’t used before the official start of the election, Paolatto’s purchase of signs, t-shirts, and a website domain prior to registering as a candidate, was not a significant violation.
He added that Paolatto did exceed the $25,000 personal contribution limit by $693, but it was the result of an unintentional accounting error.
Though he cites no sources, Paolatto tells CTV News in a written statement, "I conservatively estimate that London taxpayers will have shelled out in excess of $25,000 to find what amounts to a $700 accounting error."
The auditor also felt the use of rental of billboards advertising Paolatto’s blog seven months before the campaign period should not be considered election expenses.
Paolatto goes on to write that he, "is pleased that the finding effectively created precedent in our province, one that preserves free speech," but adds he is "saddened that it came at such a high price to taxpayers."
"I’m disappointed but not surprised," responds McCardle in a written statement, “I have maintained from the beginning that the rules are non-negotiable, and no infraction, no matter how small should be considered immaterial.”
The long wait to see the audit conclude has not dampened Paolatto’s enthusiasm for a future in politics.
"I am considering opportunities at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels."
An audit of Paul Cheng’s 2018 mayoral campaign is ongoing.
Statement from Paul Paolatto on end of audit into 2018 campaign for London mayor.