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Auditor to investigate Richmond Hill Coun. Greg Beros’ campaign finances

Beros faces allegations of 'exceeding spending limit,' and failing to provide sufficient information at the hearing
July 24, 2019
Shelia Wang

A joint compliance audit committee has appointed an outside auditor to look into Richmond Hill Ward 1 Coun. Greg Beros’s campaign expenses for possible violations of the Municipal Elections Act.

A three-person audit committee voted to launch an investigation into Beros’s expenses during the last municipal campaign at a hearing on July 18 in the council chambers.

The four-term ward councillor who is facing allegations of “exceeding spending limit” failed to provide sufficient information to address the concerns raised, according to a report of the committee released on July 19.

There are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Beros has not complied with the requirements of the Municipal Elections Act, the report states.

The decision was made after Richmond Hill resident Carol Davidson, who spoke on behalf of resident Wayne Leafloor as an agent, brought forward a long list of possible contraventions in Beros’s election campaign finances.

Davidson ran for the council seat in Ward 1 against Beros in the last election and lost by 636 votes.

She pointed out that there are several irregularities in the councillor’s campaign finance statement (Form 4) which is required for every candidate to file to make sure they are keeping records of all financial activities related to their campaigns.

From a missing residential address, undervaluing elections signs from a previous campaign to failure to fully recording expenses, Davidson went over the apparent inconsistencies she found in Beros’s financial statement in front of the audit committee and a packed audience.

Beros reported that he spent nearly $21,000 in his campaign which was subject to a general spending limit of about $22,400.

With only $1,400 below the maximum and the incomplete recording, Davidson concluded that an audit was necessary to determine if he went over the spending limit.

Beros, who had 15 minutes to respond to the allegations, acknowledged he made a “transparency error” with the missing address but did not provide further information for many other questions asked.

Ron Colucci, the committee chair, pointed out that it was “troubling” that Beros did not declare any office and internet expenses.

In his response, Beros said he also didn’t expense the laundry detergent that he used to clean his clothes that got dirty when erecting election signs.

Colucci also noted that Beros appeared to be “overcharged” for accounting and audit.

A candidate who has received contributions or incurred expenses in excess of $10,000 must attach an auditor’s report with his campaign finance statement, says the Municipal Elections Act.

Records show that Beros hired Jack Eigenmacht, an auditor with Eigenmacht Crackower Chartered Accountants in Markham for that service.

Beros claimed to have paid the firm about $4,600 for accounting and audit which was not subject to the general spending limit.

However, the standard charge for an audit was a flat fee of $1,500 plus an additional $800 for bookkeeping, Davidson cited the information from Eigenmacht Crackower in her statement.

“If the unaccounted for $2,000 was used for expenses subject to the spending limit, the candidate went over the spending limit,” Davidson said.

After a private deliberation, the committee granted Leafloor, the applicant for the audit, the investigation.

Beros was one of four councillors who were accused of breaching the act by Leafloor.

The committee members have dismissed his application for an audit of Carmine Perrelli, Joe Dipaola, and Tom Muench.

“Judging by the chair's comments, it appears that the committee's concern revolves around what constitutes an in-kind contribution,” Beros wrote in an email on July 19 to The Liberal. “I believe that the amount in question is minimal in nature and that I have sufficient room in my campaign budget limit to absorb any differences.”

This is the second compliance audit granted for Greg Beros in the past five years.

Back in July 2015, a compliance audit committee accepted an application for a compliance audit of the Ward 1 councillor following the 2014 election, ruling he may have breached the act when he used taxpayer dollars for a mailing during a period when election candidates were forbidden to do so.

However, the Ontario Superior Court overturned the decision in August 2016 and no audit was ever conducted.

“This is a lengthy process, but I am confident that this review will result in a positive outcome as it relates to my campaign budget,” Beros wrote.

The committee has appointed Forensic Partners Ltd., a Toronto-based independent financial investigative firm, to conduct the compliance audit of Beros.

Richmond Hill has not yet contacted the firm for confirmation as of July 22, according to the clerk’s office.