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Councillor took illegal campaign donation

Bob Steckley's campaign contribution list.Councillor Bob Steckley accepted an illegal contribution of $750 for his election campaign in 2006.

The donation from the Fort Erie Ratepayers Association is illegal because only individual persons or corporations may contribute to municipal election campaigns. The association is not an incorporated body.

Section 70 of the Municipal Elections Act states:

(3)  Only the following may make contributions:
1. An individual who is normally resident in Ontario.

2. A corporation that carries on business in Ontario.

3. A trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario.
4. Subject to subsection (5), the candidate and his or her spouse. 1996, c. 32, Sched., s. 70 (3); 1999, c. 6, s. 43 (4); 2005, c. 5, s. 46 (4).

These provisions were in force in 2006. (Updated Oct. 7, 2010)

The $750 amount is the maximum that a donor can give to a single candidate and is the only donation over $100 that Steckley claimed on his financial statement.

Under the heading, Duties of Candidate, the Act states

69. (1) A candidate shall ensure that,
(m) a contribution of money made or received in contravention of this Act is returned to the contributor as soon as possible after the candidate becomes aware of the contravention;”

This provision was in force for the 2006 election.

The councillor for Ward 3 spent $3,506.50 in his bid to defeat Paul Fell in the aftermath of the October storm of 2006 that left households in Crescent Park and the rest of Fort Erie without power for days and which resulted in many homes being flooded because basement sump pumps did not work.

When asked about the donation in the spring of 2007, Steckley said that if someone were to complain about the donation, he would likely be forced to pay back the donation, and that he is not associated with members of the group.

“Look in my face,” he said. “I’m not in with those guys.”

It is not known who comprises the Fort Erie Ratepayers Association, but lawyer Richard Nabi is the only person who has identified himself as a member when speaking at town council meetings.

The group also contributed the maximum amount to George Ahern and Costa Koutroulakis in 2006. Ahern also received $200 from the group in 2003.

Bill Brunton’s mayoral bid against incumbent Wayne Redekop was also partly financed by the association for $648.73. His financial statement shows the association’s name scratched off and replaced by Richard Dimberio. The amount was also changed from $553.73.

Also at the bottom of Brunton’s statement is a note by the town’s election official that reads, “Bill will review FE Assoc of RP and get back to me. Mar. 22/04.”

Several people claim that Steckley has had Saturday morning meetings with Brunton, Nabi and Richard Berry at Mike’s Restaurant and has been seen meeting with them at the Office Source, the business owned by Koutroulakis.

The association, which has also called itself the Fort Erie Association of Ratepayers (FEAR), purchased a large advertisement in The Shopper during the 2003 election campaign alleging that the mayor at the time, Wayne Redekop, had been conducting secret meetings to carry on municipal business.

It is not known how the payment to Steckley was made, but cash donations over $25 are also illegal.

Nabi also authored a pamphlet which he delivered to homes in Crescent Park in Ward 3 in 2006 that detailed a private email exchange he had with Paul Fell and which amounts to an undeclared third-party contribution to Steckley’s campaign.

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RSS Feed for This Post35 Comment(s)

  1. truthseekers | Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    steckley should not be allowed to run in this election,as per municipal act!!!

  2. Mike Cloutier | Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    He would have to be convicted in court of a “corrupt practice” before he could be disqualified. A contravention of this type is not deemed a corrupt practice does not merit disqualification, if I read the Act correctly.

  3. Steckleysupporter | Oct 4, 2010 | Reply

    I think that this is just an attempt to make people question him. WHY 4 years later and the month he is up for re-election does this come to light. And to be behonest who cares! He is an amazing councillor and I cant wait for him to be re elected. I also think that newpaper organizations are being bias based on what individual writers believe. What ever happened to bringing us the NEWS not what you want us to hear in order to sway votes?!?!

  4. Greg | Oct 4, 2010 | Reply

    Whatever happened to right is right and wrong is wrong. The right thing would be for him to resign.He commited an illegal act accociated with his position. It’s clean cut and simple. He should withdraw for re – election.

  5. Greg | Oct 4, 2010 | Reply

    I like his response. If someone complains I will just pay it back. That to me is acknowledging that it was wrong and his attitude is that as long as I don’t get caught, who cares. But lets just re elct him anyway, cause he si willing to pay it back. Right? I should rob a bank and if I get caught, I’ll just pay it back. Oops.

  6. Toad | Oct 4, 2010 | Reply

    Does it really matter when the infraction occured or when the infraction was revealed?

    The fact is that an infraction happened.

    And to be honest, a comment like ” “Look in my face,” he said. “I’m not in with those guys.” only suggests that ” those guys” are not of a reputable nature, and that this candidate took their money, and turned his back on his substantial supporters.

    Are you as confused as I ?

  7. ONUS | Oct 5, 2010 | Reply

    Appears Councillor Steckley intentionally decided to hide the matter and not repay…a set of choices that hardly qualifies him for contesting transparency, accountability and integrity on Council…or anywhere else.

  8. Mike Cloutier | Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    “This guide is prepared for information purposes only. Reference should always be made to the relevant legislation and regulations.” — front cover of Municipal Elections 2006 Guide

  9. Mike Cloutier | Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    From the Municipal Elections Act:

    “Duties of candidate

    69. (1) A candidate shall ensure that,

    (m) a contribution of money made or received in contravention of this Act is returned to the contributor as soon as possible after the candidate becomes aware of the contravention;”

    This provision was in force for the 2006 election.

  10. Shawn | Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    I did not inhale………………

  11. Toad | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Councillor Steckley responds to infraction:

    http://www.forterietimes.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2792618

  12. Toad | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    I guess you already knew that Mike as another article appears on Niagara this Week:

    http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/news/article/884189

    Your statement that you informed him of this issue back in 2007, and he hasn’t reacted to it in the past 3 1/2 years negates his “mudslinging” theory.

    Very good investigative reporting Mike…… well done!!

  13. Toad | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Exactly !!!!

    He knew about it in 2007 ….. and did NOTHING.

    Now he calls foul.

    Another internet paper posted the Mayor’s list of candidates, and the publisher repeatedly alleged that those on his list were receiving favours, yet they were only normal citizens.

    Certainly, Councillor Steckley, or his campaign manager should have questioned the support of such a politically minded group.

    Perhaps there is a correlation between the donation and his negative votes thoughout his term.

    I hope that you have an opportunity to access ALL of the candidates list of campaign contributors and publish them.

  14. Mike Cloutier | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    I did examine all financial statements filed for the 2006 election. Statements for this election will only be available next year. Steckley’s 2006 Form 4 stood out because the only contribution he declared was illegal and he won. You will also note in the story that the other candidates who received contributions from this “association” are also listed.

  15. Gilly | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Pathetic smear campaign by some lowlifes who don’t understand a thing other than how to be dishonest right before an election. You are twisting around EVERYTHING in order to try and make Mr. Steckley out to be some sort of criminal. It’s disgusting you and your fake user accounts should be ashamed!

  16. Mike Cloutier | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Also, pathetic@smear.campaign, you don’t have to go to any further than the bottom of this page to know who is responsible for this website. That would be me, Mike Cloutier. My address is on the voters’ list.

  17. Gilly | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Yeah, I know you’re Mike Cloutier and you’re part of a smear campaign against a great councillor. Too bad your own ‘evidence’ is corrupt.

    You are also against freedom of speech, since you delete anything and everything that you don’t agree with. Let the truth come out, not your biased BS.

    That goes without saying someone as underhanded as you are… naturally you’ll block any opinion that isn’t misguided and hate filled like your own!

    Clown.

  18. ONUS | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Councillor (not for long) Steckley exhibits the worst in politics….says one thing and does another and rules are for other people.

    The fact is clear….
    if you lie….you are a liar
    if you cheat…you are a cheater
    if you do both and fib about it…you are a hypocrit
    If you make up excuses instead of taking responsibility…you are pathetic.

    Put that on your lawn signs!

  19. Gilly | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Mike, the word facts for you means distortion and lies. There are no delusions here, I’ve done research, Steckley is clean and it makes your article look like nothing more than a ridiculous smear by someone possibly working for the other candidate trying to sway voters at election time. The real truth always comes out and it will! You are a weak so called ‘reporter’, true reporters work with facts not spin! Your ‘facts’ are not at all showing the honest face of the whole situation, and that is your major failure.

  20. Dave | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Gilly,
    you must have this site confused with the Bower site (whom I am sure is a buddy of yours)she is the the one who deletes posts. You should go there and post your crap..sorry I forgot, she has been closed down!!

  21. Mike Cloutier | Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    My failure in this is not publishing the story immediately when the financial statements were filed. Knowing the effect that this would have on the public’s perceptions of the town councillor, I advised Steckley about the information in the spring of 2007 and he gave me his comment. Three-and-half years passed and the money was not returned to bring him into compliance with the Municipal Elections Act — an amount that is less than a month’s gross pay as a councillor. It’s real simple.

    If, as you say, Gilly, the facts have been distorted, Steckley has his remedies available to him and he is more than welcome to pursue them.

  22. Fred | Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    Mike, why don’t you publish the other current councillor’s financial statements and our Mayor’s too???

  23. derek | Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    Mike, you told me you did not support a candidate but something else.

    You said, “The second question of who do I support: it’s not who, it’s what. And what I support, if it’s not clear now, will be eminently clear in the coming weeks”.

    You also wrote on the Crystal Beach Stranded blog: “Why did I support Doug Martin for mayor? Those reasons were fully explained when I endorsed him in the paper — the only newspaper to publicly step into the fray with endorsements in the local elections, knowing full well what the consequences to my reputation would entail”.

    This shows that you in fact DO support Doug Martin. You use your on-line paper to show your support and attack the opposition. This means your articles about those opposed to Martin are biased. You are using the guise of a “journalist” to influence the public and unfairly invoke favoritism in a political candidate(s).

    You knew about Steckley’s financial statement for years and did not file a complaint when you had the chance. You could have made this public many years ago in order for others to decide on whether or not to file a complaint. You chose not too.

    Why now Mike? What is the real reason for bringing this old news to light before the election? More importantly, I would very much like to know if it was anyone on the current council that influenced you to print it.

    This type of useless attack at this point in time only shows desperation on their part and yours.

    Well, fair is fair so here is a link to Doug Martins statement:

    http://home.cogeco.ca/~dcrane6/

    Why did he as an experienced councilor accept a donation from 6150 Valley Way, Suite 104 Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 1Y3. This is the Urgent Care Center. Now we have one. I don’t care if it was a legal donation or not. It just doesn’t not seem right to me.

    He also accepted a donation from Fortis Ontario Inc. This is the electric company.

    The donation Steckley received should only worry someone if there was a cover up. There was no cover up. His financial statement was signed off by the Clerk and Deputy Clerk and the Mayor was aware of it as well. This issue died years ago.

    You are an instigator of “dirty politics”. It also seems (In my OWN opinion) like your articles are being influenced by Mayor Martin.

  24. Mike Cloutier | Oct 12, 2010 | Reply

    Martin’s donation was from Garrison Plaza Inc. It is the Urgent Care Niagara walk-in clinic that was established by Dr. Artaj Singh in 2004.

    I did indeed endorse Doug Martin for mayor in the 2006 election and I made that statement clearly and without equivocation in the Nov. 10, 2006 edition of The Herald. I also clearly endorsed Andy Passero over Ann-Marie Noyes, and Paul Fell over Bob Steckley. I endorsed Tim Whitfield against Richard Berry, Rick Shular over Costa Koutroulakis, Dave Howell in Crystal Beach and Ric Gorham for Region.

    As far as Steckley’s donation is concerned, I’ve covered that already.

    And as for your opinions, you’re welcome to them.

    I’ve just come back from at least the 160th meeting of this council, and if you think I need someone to tell me what to think — man, you must think I’m really stupid.

  25. Toad | Oct 13, 2010 | Reply

    What is really “stupid” is for Steckley to have expanded the concern of the donation he accepted into the mainstream media.

    Political suicide if you ask me. He could have just acknowledged the error, paid back the money, and be done with it.

    Now he looks like a cry baby.

  26. Dan | Oct 13, 2010 | Reply

    Derek, Why would Mike Cloutier drop this issue now?
    Should he have waited until after the election and wait another 3 1/2 years for Steckley to reimburse the money?
    I think he gave Steckley enough time to fix what he broke. I think he gave Steckley enough time to revisit his “friendship” with sorted individuals.
    Go ahead, blame the media, and don’t forget to vote for Steckley!

  27. Mike Cloutier | Oct 14, 2010 | Reply

    Anonymous comments are subject to rejection at my discretion. Signed comments that defame individuals are also subject to rejection at my discretion. If you have a point, make it, but don’t be a douche about it.

  28. Mike Cloutier | Oct 14, 2010 | Reply

    Derek, you’re going all over the place today. Stay on topic or give it a rest. Really, man that last one about the charity nearly gave me whiplash.

  29. derek | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    Mike, everything I wrote is on topic.
    Don’t comment on my replies if you are not going to publish my comments so others can follow along.

  30. Shawn | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    [CORRECTED] Gilly and Derek, call it what you want be it mudslinging or whatever, the main point is the donation was improper, to say anyone waited over 3 years is irrelevant as in the news article, it states that Steckly himself had a discussion with Mike back in 2007, so to claim it was over looked or not known is complete BS. Back in 2007 when it was brought up, Steckly should have repaid the donation as he has since offered to do. Mike is perhaps reminding the voting public of information deemed necessary to make their own proper decision. I see a lot of backtracking and smoke and mirrors happening. He did wrong, was made aware, did nothing and now complains mudslinging and offers to finally pay back donation. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  31. Mike Cloutier | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    Derek, you are way off topic. You went from questioning my motives about the Steckley story to posting Doug Martin’s 2006 statements, which — in your words “fair is fair” — should have been Paul Fell’s statements.

    Then you go on about political donations from Artaj Singh to the federal health minister in 2004 and then to a $200 donation to Doug Martin in 2006. You talk about Artaj’s involvement in ambulatory care clinics in the US and Canada.

    Then you go to a charity involved in bringing medical care to people in Mozambique and you throw Jim Thibert into the mix. Then you state something I would definitely have to ask Artaj about before publishing.

    And then you sum it up: “I would rather have an E.R., but thanks to Martin, Thibert and Singh, we get walk-in clinics.”

    This string is not related to the $750 donation from a tiny anonymous group of businessmen, politicians and other John Does to Bob Steckley in 2006.

  32. Toad | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    It was amusing to read councillor Steckley’s closing comments in the Fort Erie Post. It read:

    ” he is expecting he will have to explain himself to residents over the remaining days of the campaign.”

    “I’m expecting door-to-door (campaigning) to be much tougher”

    Well buddy …. when you jump into the political arena, and allow yourself to be swayed as much as you were, all you can do is block the punches.

    You had an opportunity 3 1/2 years ago, and you brushed it off as insignificant.

    For 4 years you held tight to Councillor Noyes flapping coat tails. Where did that get you?

    Crystal Beach Suckers takes on a whole new meaning now.

  33. Dave | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    Shawn,
    Why did you add my name to Gilly’s in your comment??

  34. Mike Cloutier | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    I think from the context he meant Derek. I don’t know, hopefully he’ll clear that up.

  35. Shawn | Oct 15, 2010 | Reply

    Apoligies Dave, meant to type Derek

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