Robert Salvatore Powers (centre) at a mayoral forum during the 2018 municipal election at Club Lentinas in Chatham, October 12, 2018. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Mayoral candidate questions election finances

A failed mayoral candidate in the Chatham-Kent municipal election has filed 10 complaints against council candidates, a fellow mayoral candidate and a lobbyist organization, alleging unclaimed election finances.

Robert Salvatore Powers has alleged that eight council candidates contravened the Municipal Elections Act by not claiming financial contributions in the mandated disclosure forms following the election. Those candidates include Penelope Duchesne, Amy Finn, Don Fuoco, Ryan Jackson, Don Leonard, Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, Brock McGregor and Larry Vellinga.  Powers filed the complaints to the municipality in April and early May to request a compliance audit.

“The candidate appears to have accepted campaign contributions from Ben Labadie in excess of $100 and has not made note of them on their campaign financial statement,” Powers said about each candidate in the applications.

Powers said he considered an event hosted by Labadie at the Ten-Seven Cafe & Lounge a contribution of services. He added that the candidates “participated in a campaign event [which] included renting a space, utilizing audio video equipment, the filming and editing of high-quality professional campaign videos, the creation of a website, development of digital media content and the possibility of other people contributing their services.”

“Furthermore, I believe Ben Labadie may have exceeded the $5,000 contribution limit specified in Section 88.9(4) of the Municipal Elections Act. In addition to this ‘campaign event,’ he also hosted an event for three mayoral candidates,” Powers said.

Powers also made those allegations against failed mayoral hopefull Alysson Storey and took issue with her use of rented office space and her campaign website.

“Ms. Storey indicates $0 in resources used in office expenses incurred after voting day, however, she rented office space on King Street in Chatham during the election. Most commercial rentals are for calendar months, [and] it is unreasonable to believe that Ms. Storey did not make use of her rented office space between October 22 and November 1,” said Powers. “Furthermore, she continues to operate an election-related website at itstime4ck.com as of at least May 6, 2019.”

As of publication on May 21, Storey’s website, itstime4ck.com, had been removed from public view and converted to a private web domain.

Lastly, Powers has claimed that Campaign Life Coalition, “a third party advertiser”, operated a website, a newsletter and possibly other communications which supported a number of municipal candidates.

“Despite this, they indicated no expenses incurred,” Powers said.

A Compliance Audit Committee will host a meeting on Wednesday at 5 p.m. to address the applications against the election candidates and Campaign Life Coalition.