The celebrity Newmarket-Aurora Progressive Conservative MPP and foodie, Dawn Gallagher Murphy, filed an expense claim for her 22 October 2023 BBQ at Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket which comes in at $213.91
This year’s modest claim contrasts with the extravagance of last’s year’s BBQ which was bankrolled by the taxpayers to the tune of $11,160. She believes this was money well spent and was absolutely appropriate. (Photo right: this year's vibrant and fun BBQ)
However, the $213.91 looks as if it has been filed in error as the expense figures published today by the authorities at the Ontario Legislative Assembly (OLA) only cover the period 1 July 2023 – 30 September 2023 and not expenses incurred in October.
The BBQ expense, in its glorious entirety, will be revealed in Gallagher Murphy’s claim for October-December 2023 which will be published by the OLA on 1 March 2024. These quarterly expenses do not show the cost of running her constituency office or the advertisements and flyers which are everywhere. These and other major expenditures are reported annually.
On 1 November 2023 she told MPPs:
On Sunday, October 22, I hosted my second-annual community barbecue event for Newmarket–Aurora at Newmarket’s Riverwalk Commons. It was an eventful afternoon and I was thrilled to see so many familiar faces while meeting some new ones too from our vibrant community. This event is more than just an opportunity to enjoy good food and fun activities. It is about bringing people together, fostering a sense of unity, building relationships and celebrating the diversity that makes my community so special.
Casual with the facts
Dawn Gallagher Murphy describes herself as "a proud mother, wife and entrepreneur with 25 years in the secure payments industry”. She says her business served the Canadian and international banking industry. So how can she be so casual when it comes to financial reporting?
Gallagher Murphy’s Statement of Expenses filed with Elections Ontario after the June 2022 election showed an expense of $5,228.60 for “Meetings Hosted” but in the supporting Schedule 6 the figure shown for the same “Meetings Hosted” amounts to $8,228.11.
I have no idea where these meetings were. Or how many voters were treated to a free lunch.
In February I asked Dawn to explain why there was a difference in the two figures. She didn’t reply so I wrote to the Chief Financial Officer, Blake Koehler, who signed off her Campaign Return to Elections Ontario and to the Riding President, Teresa Kruse. I didn’t hear from them either.
So I wrote to the auditors and was told that food expenses of $947.72 and $3,159.28 were incorrectly categorised as “Meetings Hosted” expenses and should have been reported under "Victory Party” expenses. I was told:
“We have gone through the file and supporting documents. $947.72 of food expenses from Wicked Eats and $3,159.28 of food expenses from A Million Mouthfuls should be reported under “Victory Party” expense instead of “Meeting Hosted” expenses in Schedule 6. This results in a total of $4,121.11 of Meeting Hosted reported in Schedule 6 and the remaining balance is expenses not exceeding $200 for each supplier.”
These adjustments would have changed the figures shown for Gallagher Murphy on the Elections Ontario website. But this proved to be unnecessary as I learn from the auditors that unnamed suppliers billed Gallagher Murphy for unspecified goods and services which conveniently balanced everything out. These individual bills came in below the $200 reporting threshold where suppliers have to be named.
Personally, I think candidates owe it to the public and to their fellow candidates to submit financial information in their election return which is squeaky clean and 100% accurate.
And that's also true for MPPs claiming taxpayers' money for BBQs and other expenses.