THE local government department is investigating a complaint that unsuccessful Fremantle mayoral candidate Ra Stewart failed to properly disclose donations following October’s elections.
While the complaint alleged Ms Stewart didn’t submit her disclosure form, this week she told the Herald she’d simply been a month late because a donor was overseas for an extended period of time.
“I submitted them as soon as I could,” said Ms Stewart, adding that she’d sent the form to Freo’s returning officer Jeff Clark in November.
The former president of the local chamber of commerce had been aware the deadline for disclosures was three days after the election, and of a potential $5000 late penalty applied, but says she didn’t forewarn Mr Clark that the forms would be late.
Ms Stewart, whose campaign website claimed a platform of “transparency in all council financial dealings”, says the majority of her donations came from a $100-a-ticket lunch fundraiser. She wouldn’t reveal the other declarable donations because the issue was being investigated.
“Classic,” she said when told the complainant had advised the Herald through an intermediary that they wanted to remain anonymous.
“I do not know who made the complaint and am not prepared to speculate at this time.”
Under legislation, candidates must disclose gifts or financial assistance valued at $200. The council only keeps disclosure information for successful candidates, and files those from the wannabees out of public sight a few days after the election.
Mayor Brad Pettitt did fill out his declaration in time; it shows a big chunk of his social media campaign came courtesy of two local marketing gurus through in-kind donations of video production and website development. $15,500 worth came from Ric Cairns whose company Brandino runs out of the creative co-working office fSpace in Market Street, while $12,600 came from Kammi Rapsey, whose Media on Mars has been contracted by the council to develop its websites for several years.
measures remain a highly important measure to dispel allegations of potential conflicts of interest – either real or perceived.
“The court of public opinion does, and should continue to, demand both strict limits and full transparency on such contributions.”
The department for local government said because the investigation was “active” it couldn’t release any further information.
by ALICE ANGELONI and STEVE GRANT