Cornwall mayor put too much money into election campaign

In this October 2018, file photo, Bernadette Clement enters the salons of the Cornwall Civic Complex after winning the mayoral contest with nearly 54 per cent of the vote. Clement spent too much of her own money on her election campaign which she says was an honest mistake due to a miscommunication between her campaign and the clerk's office. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Mayor Bernadette Clement says a violation of her personal spending for the 2018 municipal election was an “inadvertent” error – an honest mistake – due to new provincial rules.

In a Facebook post Wednesday (April 17), Clement said she never received a certificate about her personal contribution limit from the city clerk’s office and believed her limit was $25,000.

The default limit is $25,000 if no certificate is issued.

“My campaign believed that my maximum personal contribution amount was $25,000. Accordingly, I contributed $18,357 to my campaign,” she wrote.

It turned out, the actual personal contribution limit was $14,203.20, meaning she overspent by nearly $4,154.

Clement was contacted by CAO Maureen Adams about her error on April 8 and the mayor said she contacted the clerk’s office the next day to explain herself.

The mayor said she wrote her Facebook post to be “committed to being transparent.”

As for what will happen, the violation could be reviewed by a compliance audit committee (the city doesn’t have one and would have to form one) if there’s a formal complaint filed.

It could result in removal from office, fines or no action taken, based on a committee’s decision and an independent auditor’s report.

One mayoral challenger – Nicole Spahich – told the Standard-Freeholder she is considering filing a complaint.