Councillor’s election signs trigger investigation

In this December 2018, file photo, Coun. Sam McDonell gets ready for the inauguration in Williamstown, Ont. McDonell got election signs from a member of his family who ran in the 2014 election. The value of those signs triggered an investigation. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – A South Glengarry councillor has triggered an investigation by the township’s compliance audit committee over the value of donated election signs.

Sam McDonell had received a donation of 372 signs from Michael McDonell, who ran in the South Glengarry 2014 municipal election.

In her report to the committee, Clerk Kelli Campeau confirmed with Sam McDonell that he had come up with a value of $1,921 on his own after getting multiple quotes. It was a higher value in order to “err on the side of caution.”

But his cautious move triggered a violation of the Municipal Elections Act because donations of goods and services from a single contributor cannot be more than $1,200.

McDonell provided the clerk with another quote showing a value below the $1,200 limit, Campeau added, but the deadline had already passed to be able to revise the financial statement.

The legislation also says that contributors of goods or services who are “not in the business of supplying” them normally, the value is calculated on the “lowest amount” a similar business in the market would charge. In other words, the lower quote of $1,083 would have been perfectly fine and legal to enter on his financial statement had the deadline not passed.

The compliance audit committee meets Thursday afternoon at the South Glengarry municipal office in Lancaster to consider whether legal action needs to be taken.

Sam McDonell won a council seat with 2,031 votes in the October 2018 election.

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