Rich­mond file closed

For­mer coun­cil­lor agrees to re­turn money

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

Elec­tions Nova Sco­tia has re­ceived the ninth and fi­nal com­pli­ance agree­ment as a re­sult of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into po­ten­tial breaches of the Elec­tions Act in the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Rich­mond.

For­mer coun­cil­lor Gail John­son has signed a com­pli­ance agree­ment with Elec­tions Nova Sco­tia.

The com­pli­ance agree­ment notes that on May 23, 2014, John­son at­tended an elec­toral fundrais­ing din­ner. That din­ner was at­tended by Premier Stephen McNeil and En­ergy Min­is­ter Michel Sam­son. John­son sought and ac­cepted re­im­burse­ment for the cost of one ticket to the din­ner.

“The coun­cil­lor was un­aware that ac­cept­ing funds to re­im­burse a con­tri­bu­tion made to an elec­toral district as­so­ci­a­tion is a breach … of the act,” the agree­ment states.

John­son agreed to re­im­burse the mu­nic­i­pal­ity af­ter meet­ing with Elec­tions Nova Sco­tia in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Elec­tions Nova Sco­tia now con­sid­ers the file closed. It had ear­lier re­leased a re­port that found that coun­cil­lors in Rich­mond County who ex­pensed money spent on a Lib­eral fundraiser were un­aware that it breached the Elec­tions Act.

The Rich­mond coun­cil­lors each paid $300 to at­tend the event.

The probe into 11 coun­cil­lors and the CAO cleared two of­fi­cials, while eight of them ini­tially ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The dona­tions were sin­gled out in a Grant Thorn­ton foren­sic au­dit of mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing in Rich­mond County.

For­mer war­den Steve Samp­son had sug­gested in an email to Rich­mond coun­cil­lors that they could be re­im­bursed. Samp­son did not re­of­fer in last fall’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, but was fired from his job with the Nova Sco­tia Lib­eral cau­cus on Nov. 1.

Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Zach Churchill has said the govern­ment is now con­sid­er­ing op­tions in­clud­ing spot au­dits of se­lect mu­nic­i­pal units or ap­point­ing a mu­nic­i­pal au­di­tor gen­eral.

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