Who Is Checking Campaign Donations? THE VOTER (1)

 

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Two things strike me about the excerpt from Mayor Mark Sutcliffe’s financial filing.

First, the names are entered alphabetically by first name, not surname. What this means is that donations from Mary Smith, John Smith, Tom Smith and Elizabeth Smith, all residing at 123 Any St., will not appear together on the list but will be scattered through it. This drastically reduces the likelihood of them being flagged as donations to be checked.

Second, it says Ms Choweire (as opposed to Ms Chowieri, her actual name) lives on Chemin d’Aylmer in Gatineau which is apparently located in the province of Ontario with a postal code that starts with the tell-tale “J”. How many people processed this information before and after it was submitted to the Ottawa Elections Office? What verifications are in place, whether at the candidate’s office or at the city, to ensure this doesn’t happen?

Is the “province” block pre-filled because it reflects the necessity for a donor to live in Ontario? Are these forms submitted electronically or in hard copy? If the former, how hard would it be to verify that the postal code and the community are, in fact, in Ontario? If it’s electronic, it would be easy to re-order the list by surname and/or by address to identify potentially suspicious donations. Is this done by the elections staff before the forms are approved? Or do they just accept without question whatever information the candidate files?


The candidate or his authorized representative must sign off on the financial statements. What consequences are there for submitting statements that include improper donations? What consequences are there for the donor? What were the circumstances of the donation? Was it at a fundraising event; in response to a mail-out; sent in by the donor of their own volition or generated by some other method? Does the donor at any point have to confirm that they are eligible to make the donation and haven’t broken any provisions of the election legislation?

Finally, had the citizens’ group that brought this donation to our attention not done so, would Sutcliffe have gotten away with it? How many other donations to him and to other candidates have slipped beneath the radar? Maybe we should be going through the filings of people such as Orleans East-Cumberland Councillor Matt Luloff just to be sure nothing untoward was recorded there. After all, surely he’d want to show that he, who threw the first stone, was without sin. And, of course, his financial records in his provincial campaign will no doubt be pristine. Someone should check just so we’re sure,

The Voter is a respected community activist and long-time Bulldog commenter who prefers to keep her identity private.

 

To see Mayor Mark Sutcliffe’s 2022 campaign donation list, click here.

 

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6 Responses

  1. Valerie Swinton says:

    Maybe a look-see for the Ottawa Auditor General to add to her list?

  2. Theresa says:

    Voter,
    I fully agree. What’s more, this needs to be done for our MPPs and Premier as well. And further to that, companies owned by these individuals (real estate companies, construction companies (especially those with quarries on or near sensitive land) also need to be included as part of the donor information. I believe Horizon Ottawa has done some of this research to try to make this hodge-podge more transparent.

  3. Been There says:

    The Voter used the phrase “would he (Sutcliffe) get away with it” I suspect he would have, and several others have. As Jim Watson was always keen to point out – taking developer donations is allowed by the city. There are maximum amounts individuals (not corporations) can donate and these individuals are often members of a developer’s family.

    These donations benefit the candidate and that is why there is no rush around the council table to prohibit the donations or even maximize the total amount of donations to one campaign by the development community. For example Councillor Darouze’s campaign was 87% financed by various developers and their families.

    Until the majority of councillors have the guts to run on their own merit and not the bankroll of developers, don’t expect any changes and yes the bad apples will continue to get away with it.

  4. Andrew says:

    I talked to one of the Horizon Ottawa vollunteers who said the job was huge. Please see the countless hours results in their “Follow the Money” webpage. It is in a cross reference format of who is a “developer ” who donated to who, and how much. You can also sort by candidate, which illuminates how big the infuence by developers is. I was shocked. In fact it appeards the Mayor continues to “gaslight” the citizens when he says he took no money from developers. This list proves it, $100k! Also a few councillors have huge donations from developers, their pro developer votes in council appear to display a link. Please see the data yourself.

  5. MM says:

    Theresa
    You’re bang on correct about the quarries. That one needs a huge spotlight on it, especially the one next to the community of Fallowfield.

    Some of the walking trails in the Monaghan Forest are now cut off due to encroachment by digging.

  6. Theresa says:

    To all those who responded to my comment — Thanks so much for this additional information — it’s very enlightening. I was thinking specifically of the Cavanagh quarry near the Burnt Lands Alvar, but it’s interesting to know that other communities are similarly affected by quarries. And yes, I don’t see developer contributions to election campaigns ending anytime soon, but perhaps if we can name and shame big-time the politicians (e.g., Constituents of Ward x, your incumbent councillor, running for re-election, was 90% funded by developers — whose interests will he support — yours or the developers’?) who have made them a large part of their funding — thanks to the Bulldog and Horizon Ottawa, it may have an effect. In the meantime, let’s support those organizations pushing for government honesty and transparency.

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