Elections BC is investigating the fundraising efforts of community interest group Cowichan Works related to the upcoming general elections, though the group says it has not been notified of that by Elections BC.
“Cowichan Works’ public communications were brought to our attention, and we are looking into them to ensure they comply with the campaign financing and advertising rules established by the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act,” confirmed Andrew Watson, director of communications for Elections BC.
According to provincial election laws, organizations can’t raise money to campaign for candidates, though they can provide paid services. Those services would then need to be reported by candidates on their election financing reports.
Watson explained: “Third party advertisers can raise money to support their campaigns. They must follow contribution source restrictions, contribution limits, and expense limits. Third parties must also register with Elections BC, include an authorization statement in their ads, and file a campaign financing disclosure statement after the election. Third parties can advertise to support or oppose candidates. They must act independently from a candidate’s campaign, and must not raise money and provide it directly to a candidate’s campaign. They also cannot sponsor advertising on behalf of, or together with, a candidate.”
Cowichan Works director Patrick Hrushowy said “Cowichan Works has had no communication from Elections BC indicating that the organization is under ‘investigation’. We have had a couple of emails asking some questions, that’s all.”
Hrushowy said, “It’s worth mentioning that Cowichan Works has not, and will not, fundraise for any candidates. Policy matters is what we are about,” he added.
“Cowichan Works is a community non-profit that is focused on raising public discussion of public policy issues in Cowichan, encouraging public engagement and communicating the importance of voting in the October election.”
CowichanWorks.ca notes “Contributions made through Cowichan Works to support election planning & development do not need to be disclosed, while contributions made directly to a candidate must be fully disclosed,” and that “Cowichan Works is committed to identifying and encouraging quality candidates who align with our values and share our vision to run for election,” and to creating media campaigns that “highlight political issues [and to] discuss the benefits new leadership will bring.”
Watson said he would provide an update when one is available.