TEAM asks Vancouver Integrity Commissioner to investigate
TEAM asks Vancouver Integrity Commissioner to investigate alleged involvement of Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s Chief of Staff Neil Monckton and Communications Director in Forward Together major corporate developers fundraising
TEAM For A Livable Vancouver today asked Vancouver’s Integrity Commissioner Lisa Southern to conduct an investigation into published allegations that Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s Chief of Staff Neil Monckton and Communications Director Alvin Singh may have potentially been involved in raising funds from major corporate developers.
The stories, in the Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail and Georgia Straight, outline a fundraising list of most of Vancouver’s biggest developers, along with significant financial targets far in excess of allowable personal donations and “targets” assigned to them.
TEAM mayoralty candidate and Councillor Colleen Hardwick said today that the Vancouver Code of Conduct has clear Conflict of Interest rules that apply to all staff, including the Mayor’s political staff, and TEAM has asked Ms Southern to immediately investigate and report publicly before advance poll voting begins on October 1 and the general election October 15. Singh is also a council candidate for Forward Together.
“Neither the Mayor nor his party Forward Together nor his staff have denied that the fundraising list disclosed this week is fake or inaccurate, nor that the names on the list correspond to the name “Neil” and initials “NM” or the name “Alvin” – that means it is important for the Integrity Commissioner to fully and quickly investigate what happened,” Hardwick said.
“There are questions that must be answered and very soon whether or not any of this constitutes a conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest – because these major corporate developers come before City Council with projects cumulatively worth in the billions of dollars and the public needs to know the Code of Conduct is being followed in every way,” Hardwick said.
“Neither I nor the public know exactly what happened but with an election just one month away, we cannot have voters unclear about how the Mayor, his staff and his party are conducting fundraising from major corporate developers – period,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick also raised a second section of the Code of Conduct with Commissioner Southern, over the possible use of staff paid time for fundraising for the Mayor’s political party.
“Again, we don’t know what happened and we need to find out quickly, because it is a violation of the Code of Conduct to use staff time for political fundraising efforts – I certainly hope that we can clear that up right away,” Hardwick said.
TEAM Campaign Manager and city council candidate Bill Tieleman said today that the Integrity Commissioner investigation request follows a request yesterday to Elections BC for an investigation into the fundraising list. Elections BC is responsible for enforcing the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA) which restricts individual donations to $1,250 for City Council and Park Board campaigns and $1,250 for School Board campaigns.
“This Developer-Gate story keeps expanding and it’s critically important that voters know exactly what happened with fundraising efforts by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, his Forward Together party and Mayor’s office staff before the election and advance polls take place,” Tieleman said. “If there is nothing to hide, let’s hear the whole story now and let voters be the judge.”
Tieleman said it is also incumbent on ABC Mayoral candidate Ken Sim and his party to explain the large number of major corporate developers donating to ABC according to their own voluntary disclosure list.
“TEAM has publicly declared the party will not take major corporate developer donations because City Council is the regulator of the development industry – obviously neither Ken Sim or Kennedy Stewart agree and are taking significant donations from them,” Tieleman said. “It’s up to Vancouver voters to decide it that is a factor in casting their ballots but they should know first that no rules or Codes of Conduct have been broken.”
Tieleman said TEAM will release its own donor list by October 1 and that some major developers have offered donations and been politely refused.
“We are not ‘anti-development’ but if elected we are asked to make decisions on enormous projects and we do not believe it is appropriate to take big personal donations from these developers or their staff or families – it is perfectly legal if within the legislated limits but it gives the wrong perception about how City Hall operates,” Tieleman said.
“There are two major parties that are taking major corporate developer donations – Kennedy Stewart’s Forward Together and Ken Sim’s ABC – and there is a party that is not: TEAM and mayoral candidate Colleen Hardwick,” said Tieleman. “We think that is something voters should know about in making their decisions on who to support.”