Richmond file closed
Former councillor agrees to return money
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.