Election Committee rejects complaints against Mayor

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By Nick Seebruch
Election Committee rejects complaints against Mayor
Mayor Bernadette Clement testifies to the Election Audit Compliance Committee on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Election Compliance Audit Committee has released its findings into two complaints against Mayor Bernadette Clement.

In April, Mayor Clement released a statement on social media explaining that she had exceeded her personal contribution limit to her 2018 Mayoral campaign.

READ MORE: City error leads to campaign contribution confusion

In late April, two complaints were filed against the Mayor in regards to her excessive contributions. It should be noted that the Mayor did not exceed her campaign spending limit.

To address the complaints, the Election Compliance Audit Committee was formed, who reviewed the facts and the complaints at a public meeting on May 15. The Committee was chaired by Rachel Poirier, with Wes Libbey and Naresh Bhargava serving as members.

RELATED: Election Audit Committee hears complaints against Mayor

The committee found that no contravention of the Municipal Act took place and has rejected the complaints against the Mayor.

In its findings, the committee points out that the Mayor was first to publicly acknowledge the error and that the number she admitted to over contributing was accurate.

Furthermore, the committee found that the error was a direct result of a mistake on the part of the City Clerk Manon Levesque.

“The Mayor’s self-contribution was specifically induced by the failure of the Clerk to issue a certificate under section 88.9.1(4),” the report reads. “The failure of the Clerk to issue a certificate entitled the Mayor to conclude that her self-contribution limit was $25,000. In any event, the self-contribution spending limits were new, and the complexity in or around the issue both for the municipality as well as for candidates, led to the error which took place.”

Additionally, the committee felt that the over contribution had no impact on the result of the election.

“The Mayor won the election by a very substantial majority,” the committee report states. “There is no evidence nor any suggestion that the election was in any way affected by the Mayor’s  alleged excess self-contribution which the Committee considers in any event to be minor.”

In the 2018 Mayoral election, Clement won with 54 percent of the vote and received 3,600 more votes than her nearest competitor.

The committee’s report concludes by rejecting the complainants requests that the Mayor’s case be referred to legal proceedings for the reasons mentioned above.

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