OTTAWA — A Liberal candidate is under investigation by the commissioner of elections for failing to report all the expenses he racked up to win a hotly contested nomination battle.
Sven Spengemann confirms there were "inadvertent omissions'' in the financial report filed with Elections Canada after he won the Liberal nomination in Mississauga-Lakeshore last September.
He says he's been co-operating with commissioner Yves Cote's review of his expenses and will "fully comply'' with his determination in the matter, which he expects to be completed soon.
Spengemann's reference to complying may suggest he expects the matter to be resolved through a "compliance agreement'' - a commonly used method for dealing with infractions of election laws.
Such agreements typically require the transgressor to publicly admit responsibility for breaching the law; they do not constitute a criminal conviction or create a criminal record.
However, Paul Szabo - the former Liberal MP for the riding who had backed a rival candidate for the nomination - says a compliance agreement in this case would be a travesty of justice which he would "vigorously challenge.''
"A compliance agreement could not possibly get around the deliberate filing of a false and misleading return considering the number and magnitude of undeclared expenses,'' Szabo said.
"Proven cheaters should never be allowed to seek public office.''
It was a complaint from Szabo that sparked the investigation into Spengemann's nomination expense report by the commissioner's office.
The commissioner's office refused to comment on the matter.
In his financial return, Spengemann claimed to have spent a total of $8,820.01 to win the nomination. But Szabo maintains other expenses were omitted, including room rentals, bus rental, campaign literature, signs and posters.
He also alleges that the financial report should have claimed the professional services of several campaign organizers, including those whom he alleges manipulated the riding's membership list. And he contends the report should also have included the cost of paying for party membership fees, contrary to party rules.
In an email to Szabo on June 22, an investigator for the elections commissioner, Al Mathews, points out that the cost of a tent rental and a telephone call service were listed in Spengemann's report to Elections Canada, contrary to Szabo's suggestion that they may been omitted.
But Mathews adds: "I have traced approximately half a dozen other unreported costs to the campaign, however.''
In another email the same day, Mathews informs Szabo that "the file is with the Commissioner.''
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