Accounting for campaign contributions

| 11/10/2016

Do campaign donations from private individuals or entities to parties or candidates in the upcoming election have to be made public? If so, where can we find this out? If not, how do we know that the party receiving donations has not made promises or actually given out favours for cash?

Auntie’s answer: The Elections Law (2013 Revision) actually addresses these issues but I can see how it would be difficult to navigate through it all to find the answers. In fact, I confess I did not do the navigating myself but asked help from the Elections Office to steer through the law.

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Section 71 (1) contains specific provisions for donations to candidates, mandating that the candidate, or his or her election agent, needs to keep an account of any contributions, monetary or otherwise, received for the campaign, along with the name and address of the person who made any contribution exceeding $10,000.

In addition, Section 71 (2) says that no candidate or election agent shall accept any monetary or other contribution exceeding $5,000 unless he or she “can identify the source of the money or other contribution” to the supervisor of elections.

That said, we can look at the meat of your question about public disclosure. Under the same law, Section 69 (3) provides for the inspection of a candidate’s expenses (and donations exceeding $10,000) on a specified time and place following the filing of the expense return, saying, “The Supervisor, within ten days after he receives any return, shall publish a summary thereof accompanied by a notice of the time and place at which the return and the documents in support thereof can be inspected.”

You should note, however, that this information on donations and expenses will not be open for public inspection after the date announced by the supervisor.

One other point: the law defines a candidate as a person who has been nominated to contest an election, which means that any funds received before Nomination Day fall outside of these reporting requirements.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library.

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