By: Laura Steiner
Milton Council voted to audit one of their own at the January 23, meeting. In a 7-3 verdict they supported a motion by Ward 4 Councillor Rick Malboeuf to ask for a compliance audit of Ward 5 Councillor Arnold Huffman’s finances.
The allegations surround Huffman’s finances during the 2014 municipal elections. They concern five specific donations totalling $3429.10. Huffman asserts he admitted nothing to the audit committee, and has receipts to back up these donations.
“Why would residents living around the corner from Arnold Huffman give cash to a printer they never dealt with?” Ward 4 Councillor Rick Malboeuf asked the committee during the discussion. It’s alleged the supporters in question drove to a Mississauga printer, and gave them the cash.
Huffman’s lawyer spoke in his defense. “In my view this is both spurious, and based on a political vendetta,” he said. Mike Bugala was Huffman’s opponent in ward 5. He requested a financial audit from the Compliance Committee. It was denied, and Bugala has filed an appeal in court. Boundary realignment places Huffman and Malboeuf into the same ward for the 2018 municipal election as potential direct opponents.
The motion indicates further evidence has been found. Ward 8 Councillor Zeeshan Hamid told of one conversation he’d had with one party. “One individual from a household told me he had never donated to a candidate,” Hamid said. Hamid told the committee the resident had changed his mind. Hamid is named as the seconder on the motion.
Krantz Voices Concern over Council Credibility
Mayor Gord Krantz was concerned over his Council’s credibility. “I’m just as concerned of the potential perception of what we do. I want to make sure this is reasonably appropriate.” The original motion requested an independent audit, and an independent lawyer. Malboeuf asked for a amendment which, changed it to a compliance audit.
Some councillors were still uncomfortable. Ward 3 Councillor Cindy Lunau worried about what was being asked of Council. “Council is asked to serve as judge and jury. I would encourage Arnold Huffman to hire an auditor on his own,” she said.
Council has the right to hire an auditor under section 296 of the Municipal Act. Taxpayers will have to pay for it. Despite a reputation for penny-pinching Malboeuf still supports it. “Freedom’s not free, democracy does not come without a cost. The only way to do it is to appoint an independent auditor to give answers to this council,” he said as a closing comment. Malboeuf believes the audit committee got it wrong.
The next steps are up to the clerk’s office. The Town Clerk will talk with Town Auditors KPMG following the approval of the minutes for the January 23 meeting. This is expected to happen at Council’s next meeting February 6, 2017.