An auditor’s report raises so many questions about Scott Hahn’s election expenses that some follow-up action appears necessary, says the Elmira resident who challenged the spending report filed by the Woolwich councillor.
But Dan Holt said he has no clear indication of what the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) will do with information in the audit released earlier this month.
“It’s a 50/50 toss-up … how they’ll handle it,” he said in advance of next week’s MECAC meeting.
Holt added he hasn’t decided what he’ll do if the committee opts not to refer the case to a prosecutor, though he does have the ability to launch a legal challenge.
“I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
MECAC meets August 27 to review the findings of the audit it ordered. Members can either decide to end the review process there or send the findings on for legal action against Hahn.
The audit prepared by Froese Forensic Partners painted the Ward 1 councillor in an unfavourable light, finding he contravened the Municipal Elections Act. There was a lack of proper paperwork in relation to campaign signs and brochures prepared by Hahn’s family members. Specifically, there may have been issues with contributions by Tri-Mach Group – owned by Hahn’s father, Michael Hahn – and KKP Waterloo, a printing company owned by his in-laws.
The committee had ordered the audit following a hearing in May, noting both Hahn’s initial filing and amended statement of expenses left many questions unanswered.
It was the low total of $258.40 originally filed by Hahn that drew an application for an audit from Holt, a candidate in the Ward 1 election last fall. Hahn’s revised statement of $3,072.66 showed expenses paid by the Tri-Mach Group. The cost of signs printed for $1,751.50 was then billed in equal thirds to Hahn’s father, mother and sister. As well, brochures and flyers were printed at a cost of $962.76, split evenly between his father-in-law and sister-in-law.
Split like that, no one person contributed more than the legal maximum of $750 to his campaign. But the auditors found no paper trail to back that assertion.
Like Holt, Hahn said he doesn’t know what next week’s meeting will bring. While admitting he contravened the act, he said he has subsequently provided all the information he could.
“I admitted to that at the first meeting,” he said in an email of the contravention. “I also hope MECAC doesn’t take any further action, but I have no idea what to expect.”
If the case goes to a prosecutor, Hahn could face a fine of up to $25,000, six months in jail or forfeiture of his council seat under the Municipal Elections Act rules.
Holt said the maximum fine or jail time aren’t appropriate, but the process should show there are consequences to not following the rules.
He also chafes at suggestions his challenge of Hahn’s expenses have been a waste of money. There are rules for a reason, and they have to be enforced, he argued.
“I did not do this because of sour grapes. There should be consequences.
“People blame me for so-called wasting taxpayers’ money, but you might as well say the police shouldn’t go out and arrest criminals because the judicial system is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “I don’t agree with people who say it’s a waste of money.”