Scott Hahn may have contravened the Municipal Elections Act on several fronts, according to a compliance audit of the Woolwich councillor’s election expenses. The document was released Tuesday.
Prepared by Froese Forensic Partners, the report found there was a lack of proper paperwork in relation to campaign signs and brochures prepared by Hahn’s family members. Specifically, there may have been issues with contributions by Tri-Mach Group – owned by Hahn’s father, Michael Hahn – and KKP Waterloo, a printing company owned by his in-laws.
“Based on our review of the purchase of the signs, there are arguably apparent contraventions of subsection 71(1) of the act by Tri-Mach and/or Michael Hahn,” the auditors’ report notes.
“Based on our review of the printing of brochures, there is an apparent contravention of subsection 71(1) of the act by KKP Waterloo in that the company contributed goods with a value in excess of $750 to the Scott Hahn campaign.”
The findings will be reviewed by the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) at a meeting scheduled for August 27. The committee had ordered the audit following a hearing in May, noting both Hahn’s initial filing and amended statement of expenses left many questions unanswered.
It was the low total of $258.40 originally filed by Hahn that drew an application for an audit from Elmira resident Dan Holt, a candidate in the Ward 1 election last fall. Hahn’s revised statement of $3,072.66 showed expenses paid by the Tri-Mach Group. The cost of signs printed for $1,751.50 was then billed in equal thirds to Hahn’s father, mother and sister. As well, brochures and flyers were printed at a cost of : $962.76, split evenly between his father-in-law and sister-in-law.
Split like that, no one person contributed more than the legal maximum of $750 to his campaign. But the auditors found no paper trail to back that assertion.
“We are unable to conclude whether Scott Hahn believes, or ought to believe, that the information on the contributors, as reported in the amended financial statement, is true. That is, whether the three family members actually contributed cash to Tri-Mach’s petty cash in or around October 2014 and whether the brochures were contributed by the two individuals to whom the sample invoice was addressed. This is a potential apparent contravention of sections 78 and 79 of the act and subsection 69(1)(m),” the report notes.
The audit completed, MECAC will decide the next steps. The committee can decided to turn over the matter to an independent prosecutor. Hahn could face a fine of up to $25,000, six months in jail or forfeiture of his council seat under the Municipal Elections Act rules.
“MECAC will have two choices – take no action or send the matter to court. If they send it to court, the township will be responsible for costs and we won’t be able to use the township’s lawyer so another lawyer will have to be retained,” said Woolwich clerk Val Hummel. “If it gets to court and Scott is found guilty then he would default his seat and council would have to decide how to fill the vacancy similar to what is happening at regional council now for Wayne Wettlaufer.”