Today, CityCaucus.com pops a cork to mark the 30-day countdown of our Official Campaign Disclosure Countdown Clock™ (located at the top left of your web browser) and to step up our coverage on the topic of campaign disclosure.
With a whole month to go the larger parties have in general not disclosed any of their campaign expenses and donations, although individual NPA candidates have. Former City Councillor Elizabeth Ball and NPA council candidate David Lee have declared. No great surprises come from their numbers, although there are some interesting details.
For example, while Lee's support came resoundingly from the Chinese community to the tune of $26,982, he lists $44,102 in expenses for his unsuccessful campaign. That leaves him an approximate campaign debt of $18,000. It is also interesting to note that Lee does not declare his NPA candidate fee of $15,000 although his schedule B declares just over $16K in "campaign-related functions." It is possible that the fee was waived in his case due to his late entry into the campaign.
Ball's unsuccessful campaign cost $29,695. That's how much she raised and how much she spent - leaving no debt. Her list of donors includes a number of Vancouver business types, developers and friends from Vancouver's film industry. Elizabeth's campaign disclosure lists the $15K campaign fee required by the NPA. It's an onerous sum for most people wishing to get into civic politics, but the fee is seen by the party as a basic requirement for candidacy. Given how expensive political campaigns are today, if you cannot raise 15 grand yourself you probably shouldn't be running. Or so goes the logic.
No Vision nor COPE council candidates have disclosed yet for the 2008 campaign. We remind our readers that Councillor Raymond Louie's mayoral nomination disclosure has been made to Vision Vancouver, and his party has yet to reveal Louie's donors and expenditures. Vision Vancouver has also not yet responded to our all party campaign disclosure questionnaire (both COPE and the NPA have) despite two requests by email.
The Work Less Party has disclosed for all candidates, including their mayoral candidate, semi-retired protester Betty Krawczyk. She and American anti-Olympics protester Chris Shaw, along with all the other Work Less gang lived up to their namesake and didn't work very hard to raise funds for their fight for our right to sleep in late. Betty, Chris et al raised and spent a giant goose egg on their failed 2008 campaign.
Over at Park Board, again none of the Vision or COPE candidates have disclosed, and the only NPA park board candidate to share her numbers so far is Sharon Urton. As with other candidates, Urton's disclosure indicates a considerable personal cost to running her campaign. While she raised a small amount of her $10,500 campaign, mainly from personal friends and contacts with one exception (Concord Pacific: $500), Urton donated $6650 to her own campaign. The NPA's fee for Park Board candidates is $6000. So it appears that Sharon paid six grand for the privilege of running with the NPA on a losing campaign.
It's worth pointing out that the annual renumeration for Park Board commissioners is almost embarrassingly low. $8000 with another 4K for allowance. One can imagine that a commissioner sitting at a Park Board public meeting, getting yelled at over a rotten stump by a member of the public, has to be asking themselves whether it was worth getting elected. Only maybe if you were a Work Less candidate.
A similar story takes place over at the School Board candidates list. No Vision nor any COPE disclosures yet, and about half the NPA slate (some of the ones that didn't get elected) have disclosed. Former School Board Chair Clarence Hansen raised $3100 from business people and developers, and spent $4000 on his unsuccessful campaign. The NPA's School Board candidate fee is $4000.
Fellow NPA school board candidates Eileen Le Gallais and Margit Nance have declared. Nance raised just about how much she spent less 60 bucks, with donations appearing to come from doctor friends. Le Gallais, a retired teacher, raised just about $6500 and spent $100 less than that. As with Urton, her biggest donor was herself - $6101.14 paid to play in the NPA's losing campaign.
Financial sacrifices are nothing new to politics, but there is a stark message in these disclosures for those who are interested in participating in public life. Be sure you have a sugar daddy before diving in.