September 9th Note: this article has been thoroughly researched. Some of the facts have been proven in court. It was viewed by the mayor's office. There were no comments nor complaints registered. No notice of libel was received. Nobody demanded a retraction. The only response was a perhaps unrelated unsigned extortion attempt that took issue with this website. I propose that's a strong validation of these facts. There are more facts to come.
It's been three years since auditor Bernard Nayman investigated the election finances of Randy Hope and Mary Lee. Despite finding non-compliances, nothing of substance was reported to council, and both candidates were let off the hook. "I'm afraid the media and council won't believe me if I report what I've found," stated Bernard Nayman beforehand.
Subsequent attempts to obtain information about the audit have been obstructed by mayor Hope and the municipality. Mayor Randy Hope, who once championed openness and transparency before being elected, refused permission to release his own testimony to the public. An investigation is underway by the Privacy Commissioner to cut through the secrecy at city hall and gain access to the audio recordings made during the occasion.
...what election activities might have been so damaging that a lawsuit and other threats of litigation were required to chill scrutiny. Mary Lee, one of the audited candidates, even called the applicant and warned him to shut up. Randy Hope impressed upon the public how innocent he was during the audit, yet he found it necessary to lie to the auditor about several key issues.
Not many people seem to know that Randy Hope made himself head of municipal freedom of information requests, so he sees everybody's requests and replies, and is apparently now able to use this position to influence who gains access to municipal documents.
It has also emerged that John Cryderman filed a pre-emptive lawsuit seeking damages from the compliance audit conducted against the mayor well before the results were presented. Cryderman then cited the lawsuit in an attempt to evade giving testimony to the auditor. While that strategy was ultimately not successful, Cryderman was allegedly able to narrow the scope of the investigation and influence the outcome by citing his litigation.
The court action was never pursued following the audit, but Cryderman conveniently did not withdraw it either, effectively muzzling and driving up costs against his opponents. The statements Cryderman's lawsuit complained of being defamatory in the audit applications were largely proven true in the audit findings.
One is left to wonder what election activities might have been so damaging that a lawsuit and other threats of litigation were required to chill scrutiny. Mary Lee, one of the audited candidates, even called the applicant and warned him to shut up. Randy Hope impressed upon the public how innocent he was during the audit, yet he found it necessary to lie to the auditor about several key issues. No matter how "trivial" the allegations were against the mayor, accepting an ineligible contribution pales in comparison to providing perjured testimony.
The matter is still under investigation on several fronts, and new facts about the audit have emerged. Little more can be said at this time, except that local media completely ignored the explosive details that are turning up, even though they were there for the asking. It is clear that local media has engaged in biased reporting in favour of mayor Hope and his many full-colour ribbon-cutting appearances, and failed to pursue any sort of investigative journalism.
When the auditor's reports went before council on October 29, 2007, the public was not informed of the contents, nor did the media bother to report anything accurately - possibly under the chill or pressure from Mr. Cryderman's litigation about the matter. Normally a million-dollar lawsuit involving such political intrigue would be considered quite newsworthy.
The auditor's reports were labelled "Confidential" in violation of the Municipal Elections Act, and did not appear in the public council agenda posted online. This is rather odd considering the original applications for the compliance audit against Randy Hope and Mary Lee are still available on the municipal website, despite the fact that John Cryderman is claiming $1.1 million in defamation damages over the documents. Perhaps people weren't supposed to know that the auditor got it wrong.
While the audit itself is old news today, the fact it was misled by the mayor and his advisor is germane during an election year, as is the fact mayor Hope supported John Cryderman's efforts to litigate against his opponents on his behalf, including innocent citizens. Likewise, the issues being examined by provincial officials are very much relevant as new information emerges. The Maple City Star will post details wherever possible without compromising ongoing investigations.
Chatham-Kent 2006 Municipal Election Compliance Audits, by Bernard Nayman, C.A. as presented to council, but marked confidential to keep them from the public in violation of Section 88. (5) of the Municipal Elections Act:
Download PDF copy: Candidate Randy Hope, Mayor
In the above reports, there is no mention of Randy Hope's advertising in Chatham This Week. While the auditor researched Hope's Chatham Daily News ads and subpoenaed copies, he did not pursue the Chatham This Week advertising with the same vigour, and did not retain copies of anything he did happen to locate.
Considering information was received by the auditor that these ads were allegedly placed by a private businessman using his business account instead of Hope's campaign account, who then allegedly demanded reimbursement after Hope won the election, such a glaring oversight in the investigation raises additional questions.
More information to come...