The Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign has been fined $250 by Elections BC for sponsoring election advertising without an authorization statement.
Director of Investigations Adam Barnes advised KTRIS founder Ivan Scott, by email on Nov. 22, of the contravention under the Local Election Campaign Financing Act (LECFA) related to the community group’s status as a third-party sponsor in Surrey’s Oct. 15 civic election.
Barnes noted that on Sept. 2 Elections BC received a complaint concerning flyers that had been distributed by KTRIS “that lacked an authorization statement.”
Elections BC requested copies of invoices for ads, copies of the original ads and images of the ads.
“Your response indicated that KTRIS distributed both postcards and flyers that lacked an authorization statement,” Barnes noted. “The cost for the post cards was $1,750, and the cost for the flyers was $1,774.40. While KTRIS commissioned 2,000 post cards and 1,000 flyers, only a few hundred were distributed before the error was caught. The cards and flyers directly oppose the re-election of Doug McCallum for Mayor of Surrey.
The Local Elections Campaign Financing Act requires that an election advertising sponsor identifies the financial agent, indicates that it was authorized by the financial agent, and provides a B.C. phone number, an email address or a B.C. mailing address at which the financial agent may be contacted regarding the advertising.
“I have carefully reviewed the Investigator’s report, and I concur with his preliminary conclusions,” Barnes determined. “The cards and Flyers clearly oppose the re-election of Doug McCallum as Mayor of Surrey, they distributed during the pre-campaign period, and they lacked an authorization statement as required by section 44(1) of LECFA. I find that paying to print, and subsequently distribute, the post cards and flyers contravened section 44(1) of LECFA.”
The maximum penalty is $10,000. Barnes assessed the fine at $250 after finding the “lack of an authorization statement would not likely have misled a reader to conclude that the post cards or flyers were sponsored by another individual or organization. KTRIS is clearly identified as the sponsor of the ads, so the transparency purpose of the Act had been substantially met.”
Also, KTRIS indicated publishing the advertisements without an authorization statement was “inadvertent,” that it had not been penalized under the LECFA before.
During the election campaign, in an unrelated matter, Jinny Sims’ Surrey Forward slate lodged a complaint with Elections BC on Sept. 21 accusing Brenda Locke’s rival slate Surrey Connect of receiving “illegal” support from the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign.
“This penalty is not related to allegations that KTRIS was not acting independently. We received a complaint about this issue, and our investigation found that the allegations were unfounded. We have closed this investigation,” Melanie Hull, a spokeswoman for Elections BC, told the Now-Leader.