Probe of mayoral candidate in 2018 election still unresolved

Former Victoria mayoral candidate Stephen Hammond doesn’t understand why Elections B.C. won’t close a file alleging improper spending during his unsuccessful campaign last October.

The complaint was lodged with Elections B.C. by a person whose identity remains confidential.

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“We have no idea who it is. Is it some political opponents? Is it politically motivated?” Hammond said.

Three separate complaints were lodged against Hammond and his newcouncil.ca electoral organization during the campaign. Two were by mayoral rival Michael Geoghegan, who made unrelated complaints to the Law Society of B.C. and to Victoria police.

Both were found to be unsubstantiated and closed, Hammond said.

But the complaint to Elections B.C. remains open. It alleges Hammond and newcouncil.ca contracted with CDM Marketing or its owner, Paul Seal, for advertising that was carried on a number of Facebook pages.

Elections B.C. would not comment on the file when contacted by the Times Colonist, saying it does not comment on open investigations.

“In general, an investigation remains open until all reasonable avenues of investigation have been exhausted, and we are able to determine whether the complaint was founded, unfounded, or if the result of the investigation was inconclusive,” says an email from Rebecca Penz, Elections B.C. director of communications.

But an email thread between Hammond and an Elections B.C. official indicated Hammond was told the matter could be resolved if he signed a declaration stating that he had not paid or sponsored anyone to make the Facebook posts.

“All I have to do is give my signature and this whole thing will go away. That’s what they said.”

But that is something Hammond, a lawyer, refuses to do. He maintains that by signing such a declaration, he’s giving substance to allegations that have no basis in the first place.

“I would think we’re giving credence to people being able to make unfounded allegations based on no substance of any kind. Nothing. So I’m not doing it. I think it’s preposterous,” he said.

Hammond has launched a website called ClearingMyName.ca in which he posts summaries of the three complaints and other information, to “set the record straight.”

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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