Hamilton’s Election Compliance Audit Committee is launching prosecutions against two of Hamilton’s highest-profile real estate developers for municipal election donation limit violations.
The Committee says it is in the public interest to hire a prosecutor to pursue provincial offence charges against Sergio Manchia and Darko Vranich for exceeding the maximum individual contribution limit of $5,000 during the 2022 municipal election.
Vranich donated $9,600 to eight candidates, nearly double the limit.
Manchia donated $5,300 to 13 candidates.
The charges will be heard in Ontario’s Superior Court. The Municipal Elections Act provides fines of up to $25,000 for violating donation limits.
Lawyer Patrick Mc Ilhone told the Compliance Committee that Manchia believed the contribution limit was $5,500, and that his client made a “minor” error.
It did not rise to the level that warrants punishment, Mc Ilhone stated.
Manchia contributed over the limit during the 2018 municipal election by $350. In 2018, no action was taken.
“The Committee is satisfied that the Contributor is sophisticated, with past experience relating to contribution limits as set forth in the Act given that he was the subject of a Clerk’s Report during the last election cycle,” reads the ruling of the Committee.
“The Committee finds that the commencement of legal proceedings is warranted and that it is in the public interest to commence legal proceedings against the Contributor who has exceeded the contribution limits without reasonable explanation.”
Vranich did not appear before the Committee during its June 16, 2023, hearing.
The City states Vranich [or legal counsel] submitted a written response to the Audit Committee after its June 19, 2023, meeting.
“Later that day the Clerk’s office received a short email statement from the Contributor, which was provided to the Committee,” reads the decision of the Audit Committee.
The Committee granted Vranich an exception from the requirement to appear publicly before the Committee.
The Committee writes Vranich was sent a letter by registered mail, but it was not claimed.
The Vranich statement was considered in secret without public notice, contrary to the Municipal Elections Act requirement for the Committee to conduct hearings and receive evidence in public.
The Committee states Vranich “admitted to making over contributions and apologized for the error, stressing that the error was unintentional and was due to his lack of knowledge of the cumulative contribution limit respecting multiple donations.”
City Clerk Andrea Holland has not released the statement from Vranich and/or his representative.
Section 88.34(9.1) of the Municipal Elections Act requires the Clerk to release the document.
Section 9(1.2) of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act also requires the City Clerk to release the document.
The City will appoint a prosecutor to file charges to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Production Details v. 1.0.0 Published: July 4, 2023 Last edited: July 4, 2023 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version