NEWS

Crowdfunding websites draw Elections B.C. scrutiny

10/16/2014 11:20 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
Elections B.C. plans to take a closer at a new form of online campaign fundraising many civic election candidates are using for the first time.

Across B.C. municipal election candidates are turning to crowdfunding websites to bring in donations in the lead up to the Nov. 15 civic elections.

The idea of crowd-funding itself isn't new.  People have been turning to sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to fund projects for several years.

But while the practice has been used in U.S. campaigns, it's new to B.C. politics.

Nola Western, the deputy chief electoral officer, told CBC News she was not even away municipal candidates in Vancouver, Coquitlam, Kamloops and Kelowna were using the websites.

"We've actually never had it arise before. Now that this has been brought to our attention, we'll have a look at those sites and see what we can find."

Western says crowd-funding sites must abide by the Election Act, meaning candidates must be able to hand over the names and addresses of those who make larger donations.

"Under the local campaign financing act, financial agents have to disclose the names of financial contributors who give $100 or more."

"It's all about transparency, one of the fundamental principles of the election legislation both federally, provincially and municipally is transparency," she says.

Sean Upshaw and Mike McLoughlin are two of at least three candidates in Kelowna's civic election using the GoFundMe.com website to raise money.

Upshaw says complying with the law is not a problem because while donations can appear anonymous online, the websites give him the names and addresses of contributors.

"They can remain anonymous as far as their donation is concerned, but behind the scenes we know whose given what.


 

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