Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti has been fined $200 for violating advertising rules during last fall’s civic election.
In a letter released Tuesday (Dec. 13), Elections BC’s director of investigations, Adam Barnes, advised Lahti her campaign failed to include an authorization statement during automated calls to voters.
According to Section 44 (1) of the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, such a statement must identify a campaign’s financial agent and indicate the advertising has been authorized by that financial agent, as well as provide a B.C. telephone number, email address or B.C. mailing address where the agent might be contacted about the advertising.
Barnes said the calls were contracted through Campaign Support Ltd., an Ontario-based consulting company that specializes in election campaign communications and marketing as well as polling and research.
He said invoices indicated Lahti’s campaign purchased 100 hours of the person-to-person calls at a cost of $3,654, but when her campaign team was informed of the investigation, the calls stopped.
Barnes said, as an experienced candidate Lahti should have known better.
As well, Barnes said, while the fine could be as high as $5,000, he conceded there may have been some misunderstanding of how the rules of the financing act apply to person-to-person calls and it was also Lahti’s first offence.
In a statement to the Tri-City News, Lahti said her campaign team now has a better understanding of the rules regarding person-to-person calls and accepts Barnes’ ruling.
“We appreciate the work of Elections BC in helping ensure that British Columbia has a well run election process,” she said.
Lahti’s campaign wasn’t the only one in Port Moody that ran afoul of Elections BC.
Council candidate Barbara Junker was fined $150 after her campaign failed to include the authorization statement on more than 14,000 brochures that were sent to voters.
In that ruling, Barnes acknowledged that it was Junker herself that notified Elections BC about the oversight and any brochures that hadn’t yet been distributed were subsequently affixed with a sticker with the authorization statement.