Convinced Woolwich councillor Scott Hahn got off too lightly after improperly filing an expense report related to the 2014 municipal election, an Elmira resident has filed private charges in hopes the Crown take up the case.
Alan Marshall is following the same game plan he used to bring Mayor Sandy Shantz into court for discrepancies in her election finance report.
A summons was issued July 15 by Justice of the Peace Zeljana Radulovic calling for Hahn to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener on August 31.
In documents filed with the court, Marshall maintains the Ward 1 councillor “contravened multiple provisions of the Municipal Elections Act” in filing his election expense report.
As with Shantz, Hahn’s expenses were the subject last year of hearings by the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC). While the review found the councillor’s expense report had failed to comply with the act, committee members decided Hahn’s contraventions weren’t significant enough to warrant referring the case to the courts for legal action. Instead, the majority of members agreed the councillor hadn’t been hiding anything, but that he had been ignorant of the rules, guilty of nothing more than poor paperwork after the election.
For Marshall, however, the forensic audit ordered by MECAC was damning enough to require legal action.
In an interview this week, Marshall said he was acting now after waiting to see how the system dealt with the legal action he launched against Shantz, subsequently growing concerned that the issues with Woolwich council were simply going to be dropped.
Unlike the Shantz case, in which MECAC opted not to order a forensic audit of the mayor’s expenses, the auditor’s report on Hahn should have been enough to warrant charges, Marshall maintains.
The report prepared by Froese Forensic Partners, found Hahn may have contravened the Municipal Elections Act on several fronts, noting 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.
“It really is, I hesitate to use the word blatant, but it is quite shocking,” said Marshall this week, saying the audit’s findings should have prompted MECAC to send the matter to the courts. “It’s just so blatantly bad.”
In making his own appeal to the court, Marshall said he wants to see the Crown pick up the ball.
“This should have been a slam dunk, sent right to the prosecutor. I’d like to see the Crown step up and say … ‘yes, I will prosecute.’”
The audit findings of Hahn’s election finances should be enough to move forward, he maintains.
MECAC 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 in 2014. 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.
As of Wednesday morning, Hahn said he had yet to receive the court paperwork, adding he would wait until the court proceedings played out before commenting.