Former mayoral candidate being accused of breaking campaign-spending rules
Accusations that former mayoral candidate Terry Kilrea spent money to get elected outside of the 2006 campaign period may have to go unchallenged by the city.
Councillor Alex Cullen will ask a city committee next week to approve an audit of Kilrea’s campaign expenses under the Municipal Elections Act, but Ottawa’s legal department suggested yesterday it may be too late because the spending in question occurred over a year ago.
“On the face of it, the limitation period imposed by the Act has been exceeded and there would appear to be no prospect of being able to pursue remedies at this time for activities that occurred some years ago,” reads a memo by the city’s legal department, obtained by Metro.
Cullen’s complaint suggests Kilrea raised and spent money before the beginning of the election period through the “Kilrea For Mayor” website, which was online in 2004 and 2005. After Kilrea withdrew from the mayoral race, he ran for a council seat against Cullen in Bay ward. During the campaign, accusations were thrown around by both sides charging each other with election irregularities.
Cullen thinks the audit should go ahead. Election rules are in place to protect the integrity of the process, he said, and council should defend citizens’ interests by upholding the law. He believes the possible penalty, if Kilrea were to be found guilty of wrongdoing, would be a fine of up to $5,000 and/or disbarment from running for public office.
“If council turns its back, it opens it up for future violations,” Cullen said.
Kilrea, however, yesterday dismissed the latest chapter as “a farce with no validity.” He maintains he did not raise money outside of the election period and argues that it’s not fair for a councillor to have websites up and running throughout their term in office. “This is whimsical nonsense and the city has no legal ground to move forward with an audit,” he said.
As for a potential audit, Kilrea claims he hasn’t saved his records because he has never been officially notified by the city that there were any problems.
The last time the City of Ottawa audited a candidate was in 2001 when former councillor Shawn Little was accused of misspending. That audit cost taxpayers about $25,000.