The jury is still deliberating over Vision's campaign disclosure
Vision Vancouver have broken the law. At least that's how I interpret the way they continue to flout the terms of the Vancouver Charter. However, Vision Vancouver see it differently.
Faithful readers of CityCaucus.com are familiar with our quest to make Vision Vancouver accountable, and in particular requiring them to abide by the rule in the Vancouver Charter which states that if you have information relating to the payment of an election campaign debt (in full or in part) then you must report it within 30 days to the City Clerk.
Vision Vancouver, through the recent statement of their Executive Director Ian Baillie, interpret the rules to mean they only have to report when the debt is paid off IN FULL. This is what Baillie stated to the Vancouver Courier's Mike Howell:
When you pay your debt down, that is when you need to file... We have a [contributors’] list out there, the other parties you don’t know where their money comes from. You know where ours comes from. There you go.
Baillie's testy-sounding response exemplifies Vision's like-it-or-lump-it attitude to scrutiny. They ran on a platform promising openness and transparency, and they promised to rise above petty politics. Of course, in their own Bizarro world Vision are open and accountable.
The Courier's Howell chose to make Coun. Anton's sole fundraiser the object of his report, but Anton rightly pointed out that she's not the one who has bent the rules – Vision has.
Ironically, a member of the Vision Vancouver board – David Eaves – makes it his business to press for openness and accountability in government. He's even given public presentations on how open data can serve Canadian taxpayers by revealing tax frauds and charities scofflaws. Yet the organization he serves as a Director peddles the fiction that they've played by the same rules used by all other candidates – including the NPA, COPE and independents – when they clearly haven't.
Even Howell's story states the rules:
The city Charter says a party has a duty to file a supplementary disclosure statement within 30 days of a party filing its election expenses, if any of the information in the initial disclosure statement has changed...
As we wrote earlier, Section 62 of the Charter states:
A disclosure statement must include the following in relation to the election campaign of the candidate, elector organization or campaign organizer:
(a) the total amount of campaign contributions;
There is no language that states "once the entire debt is paid off," as Baillie and Vision Vancouver would lead you to believe. The Charter says if you have contributions toward paying for your election campaign, you must update the City Clerk within 30 days.
For anyone to truly make Vision Vancouver accountable to the terms of the Vancouver Charter, a formal letter of complaint must be filed with the Vancouver Police Department's Financial Crime Unit, headed up by Sergeant Mark Johnstone. Only then will we see if the ground rules set out for conducting fair elections in our city have any teeth.
There are even questions about the completeness of Vision's most recent disclosure. Peter and Shahram Malek of Millennium Developments are listed by reporter Frances Bula as attending Vision's June fundraiser, yet their names are nowhere to be seen on Vision's July 29th disclosure. Do these guys really get comped tickets for Vision fundraisers?
Of course, the fall back for Vision is to say that because Sam Sullivan raised money and didn't disclose the names, they're within their rights to also hold back the release of their donors. Sullivan never ran for office with the money he raised – Peter Ladner made sure of that.
Sullivan didn't break the rules, but Vision have. And they think they're going to get away with it. Sadly for all of us, they probably will.
- post by Mike