Why are the bank charges on candidate election finances reports so high for the ward 1 Councillor ?

By Pepper Parr

May 16th, 2023


Part 4 of a series

It is called a Form 4, the document every candidate who ran in a municipal election must file with the City Clerk.

If the candidate fails to file the document they will not be permitted to run in the next municipal election. That is a pretty big stick in the hands of a City Clerk.

Candidates are required to state how much of their own money they spent to get elected. How much they received in the way of donations and what they spent the money on.

Candidates are required to open a bank account that accepts deposits and is used to pay campaign expenses. The candidate is expected to have an auditor review the statement before it is submitted.

On the lower left hand corner of a Form 4 the signature of the candidate appears and on the lower right hand corner is the signature of the City Clerk.

There is one line on a Form 4 that requires the candidate to detail how much they spent on bank charges. Bank charges – why is this amount important?

It wasn’t until we put together a list on how much each candidate spent on bank charges.

Stolte: $78.33
Bentivegna: $0
Sharman: $42.77
Meed Ward $122.77
Kearns: $14.27
Nisan: $51.57

Galbraith: $552.05

Two numbers stood out. There were no bank charges shown for Angelo Bentivegna which suggests he may not have opened a bank account for his election campaign. Bentivegna once told the Gazette that his wife handles all the household finances. Would a wife’s purse qualify as a bank? In some households that might be the case – but we jest. This is serious business

Relative to the others Galbraith incurred very high bank charges compared to the other candidates; five times as high as Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Money influences campaigns. People donate to an election campaign because they want to influence the outcome. A campaign funded by hundreds of small donations is a sign of a healthy community. Campaigns with a small number of large donations from a specific sector is not a healthy sign.

We can only speculate on the why such a big difference. Did Galbraith use one of his private corporate bank accounts?

If that was the case did his auditor not bring this to his attention?

Lastly – did the City Clerk note the significant differences and ask the candidate to explain?

If the Clerk has the authority to prevent a candidate from running for office in a following election surely the Clerk would at least review the documents.

The Municipal Act is pretty clear.

Duties of candidates

88.22 (1) A candidate shall ensure that,
(a) no contributions of money are accepted or expenses are incurred unless one or more campaign accounts are first opened at a financial institution exclusively for the purposes of the election campaign;
(b) all contributions of money are deposited into the campaign accounts;
(c) all funds in the campaign accounts are used exclusively for the purposes of the election campaign;
(d) all payments for expenses are made from the campaign accounts

We will put the question to the City Clerk – the one serving the City of Burlington tends not to respond to questions from the Gazette.

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2 comments to Why are the bank charges on candidate election finances reports so high for the ward 1 Councillor ?

  • Pat Brod

    I think that the lack of any response from City Hall is beginning to look less like indifference and more like conscious orchestration. It is an old ‘saw’ in issues management circles that the best way to deal with a fire is to remove the oxygen and don’t fan the flames. Then fire eventually goes out – the issue goes away.

    I hope that people will start to ask for more answers and accept less silence. I mean WTF – who is serving who here?

  • Lynn

    It’s getting to seem like someone is telling council members not to speak to the Gazette either, hmmmmmmm. Do Galbraith and Nisan, two who have recently ignored all requests for comment, ever think or speak for themselves? It’s become a running joke at this point.