Nisan and Kearns explain why they donated the maximum - $1200 - to each others election campaign

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2019



The Gazette is taking a look at what city council has managed to get done since they were sworn in just over six months ago.

Council perf reviewWe will be looking at what the members of council promised when they ran for office, what they have done in the first six months; where their campaign funding came from and what we might expect from them going forward.

As we do our due diligence some interesting data comes to the surface.

The two documents set out below are interesting.

The donations that were made were perfectly legal.

Lisa Kearns explains her donation to Nisan:

“All donations are in accordance with audit requirements. My personal pledge to Rory’s candidacy was made significantly in advance of my own consideration to run as a municipal candidate. I recognized his experience as a Foreign Service officer and strong community advocate as an asset to our City and Region.”

Lisa to Rory 2018

The Lisa Kearns donation to Rory Nisan

A reasonable explanation.

But let’s look at the time line.

Nisan announced his candidacy May 1st, Kearns announced her candidacy on May 15th.  When was the Kearns donation made to Nisan, could she make a donation to a campaign that did not yet have a candidate?

Kearns + Josie

Lisa Kearns, in green, attending the founding meeting of ECoB.

Lisa Kearns first showed up on the public radar in December of 2017 as a participant at the founding meeting of ECoB.

She sounded good – said all the right things and then got heavily involved in what ECoB was setting out to do.

During one of our early interviews with her we asked Kearns if she was considering public office – we got the kind of answer that people considering their options usually give. She didn’t say yes but she didn’t say no.

Lisa at ECoB before she announces

Lisa Kearns

One of the ECoB tasks she took on what to instruct potential candidates on what their responsibilities were once they filed their nomination papers. She spoke at length on how careful the campaign finance manager had to be when issuing receipt and accounting for the funds they received and how those funds were used.

If Kearns’ story holds water – it may be that she gave Nisan the money because she believed in the guy – we note however that she didn’t donate to anyone else in any other ward.

The question is – when did Kearns make the perfectly legal $1200 donation? Kearns didn’t provide that information.

Rory Nisan

Rory Nisan

The Gazette worked closely with Nisan as he was preparing to run for office.  At the time he wasn’t sure if he would run in Ward 6 where he happened to live in a condominium with his girl friend.  Nisan was heavily involved in the battle to keep Lester B. Pearson high school open.

The Gazette believed Nisan could take the seat from incumbent Blair Lancaster.  However Rory Nisan was raised in ward 3 and he wanted to run in that ward.  He had to find a place to live in that ward and get all his documents changed to reflect the move – then spend as much time as he could with his girl friend whom he shared ownership of the ward 6 condominium.

We asked Rory Nisan for some comment on the $1200 donation he made to the Kearns campaign.

Rory to Lisa contribution

Nisan’s donation to Lisa Kearns

The first response the Gazette we got back from Nisan was “ I’ll get back to you very soon.”

Nisan Lowville Feb 7 BEST

Rory Nisan at a constituency event listening to a staff member explain the budget.

And he did saying :  “Lisa was an early backer of mine. She promised to help me financially and committed to giving her time when I was building support for a potential candidacy. She came through with a donation and by knocking on doors for my campaign.

“I was really grateful for Lisa’s support and I also encouraged her to run. I was happy to donate to her campaign, especially once I realized that developers were lining up behind one of her main competitors. Unlike at least one of my fellow candidates I did not receive any money from developers.

“I donated the maximum amount because I believed in her platform and because of what had become a highly competitive race, seen as more competitive than my own.

“My campaign was audited and all donations received and made were in conformity with election finance rules. As a Burlington resident I am grateful to have the same opportunity as other residents to support a candidate who I believe in.

The donations were perfectly legal – but the optics are terrible.

Add to that the issues that cropped up with the Nisan campaign and some of his fund raising efforts.  None of it creates a strong sense of probity in the candidates.

It could have been quite a bit different if Nisan and Kearns has issued a joint statement once the audit was complete, explaining what they did for each other and then making themselves available for media questions.

Very recently Nisan told the Gazette that he had been told “not to talk to you” when we were preparing to ask him some questions.

It all makes one look askance.

To be fair to both Rory Nisan and Lisa Kearns – when asked for comment they didn’t duck or hide – they were forthcoming and deliberate.  Lisa did ask that we write about the good work she has done – and we will do that when we review her performance as a member of Council.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette

Related news stories:

Nisan publishes an opinion piece in the Gazette.

Nisan stumbles on a fund raising goof.

Kearns explains to potential candidates what they have to watch out for when they run an election campaign.

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13 comments to Nisan and Kearns explain why they donated the maximum – $1200 – to each others election campaign

  • Stephen White

    Sorry, but absent compelling evidence to the contrary I don’t see the problem here. Two candidates in different wards who know one another, and who share similar perspectives and viewpoints, each make a campaign contribution to the other’s campaign. So what? Where is the subterfuge in that?

    What is the bigger and more interesting question is: where did those lucrative real estate development firms and individuals associated with the industry sprinkle their donations last election? And while we’re on the topic….did we ever figure out who actually paid for and circulated those nasty, malicious ads about Marianne Meed Ward, or who funded that bogus election survey? And why were these kind of actions and misconduct not deserving of investigation by the City Clerk’s Office or the police? The last time I checked defamatory libel was a Criminal Code offence.

    • Lucy

      Hi Stephen…You ask: “What is the bigger and more interesting question is: where did those lucrative real estate development firms and individuals associated with the industry sprinkle their donations last election?” In the spring, I checked the city site for all election expenses for each candidate that won his/her Ward, seeking info about contributions made by developers/individuals associated with the industry. I copy below my findings that show that only two individuals received such contributions. If anyone finds and error or omission on my part, please feel free to point it out and I apologize in advance if this is the case.

      Ward 5 Paul Sharman Donations of $1, 200 from these people connected to Development companies: Jeff Paikin (New Horizon Development Group), Angelo Paletta, Michael Paletta—both with major development companies across the city, Michael Shih (Emshih Development), Robert Molinaro (Molinaro Group), Miam Linquat (LJM Development), Joe Giacomodonato (New Horizon Development), Kartik Ganatra (Sealink Properties), Steve and Anne Stipsits (Branthaven Homes)

      John Krpan (Fernbrook Homes—$600 donor)
      Domenic Fuda (Tri-Axis Construction linked to Burlington Hotel Group—$500), Jack Moreira (Burlington Hotel Group—$400), Frank Vismeg (Burlington Hotel Group—$400).

      Sharman’s total campaign expenses were over $19,000.

      Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith was the only other elected Councillor who had some Developer/builder type contributions (some that were on the Sharman list also). Michael Shih (Emshih Development—$1,200), Vince Molinaro (Molinaro Group—$800), Joe Giacomodonato (New Horizon Development—$1,200), Jeff Paikin (New Horizon Development Group—$1,200), Nigel Morgan (Morgan Investment Group—$1,200), Donald Husack (Dawn Victoria Homes—$500), Jeremy Povey (Povey Custom Woodworking—$400).

      Galbraith’s total campaign expenses were over $9,500.

  • Alfred

    One angle is that both could write off the donations to each other on their income taxes. Not sure if they can write off their own expenses. Other wise I can’t see the reason for doing it. Kind of raises the question of the independence of each councilor. I didn’t know we had parties and alliances in Municipal politics.

  • david barker

    It seems pretty obvious that both were in effect able to increase their own contributions to their own campaigns by contributing to the other’s campaign. As @PepperParr, said perfectly legal. Two smart cookies. Don’t we want smart but legal cookies, play hard but within the rules, leading us in our dealings with the Ford govt? I think we do! Optics ? Let’s worry about optics when we don’t have to worry about being steam-rollered by Queen’s Park.

  • Tom Muir

    I would say that before the election they were both candidates only and have no knowledge of the future and that they would be individually elected, never mind both of them.

    For all they know it might be all the money they get.

    So tell me how supporting each other as candidates only is bad optics, or any kind of wrongdoing? Why not?

    This is a different situation than if they were both in fact sitting Councilors, and that is only different to me in terms of what your personal value judgements and ethics are about contributing to each others campaigns in this context and how others judge that.

    I would not agree that these are absolutes in terms of right or wrong.

    It’s personal ethics, but some might see bad optics because in politics perception is reality.

  • Lisa Cooper

    Why would you donate the exact same amount to the other person’s campaign fund that they donated to you? Would it not have been simpler for both of them to keep their own money and claimed it on their financials from themselves. Unless they have a good explanation for this and I don’t buy that they were out to support each other.
    If they were that close and like Lisa Kearns said I was advising future candidates on how to run election, apparently Rory didn’t listen very well as he accepted Corporate donations that were clearly stated in the 38 page handbook as being not allowed. His answer oops, made a mistake. He seemed to make a lot of oops made a mistake throughout his campaign. Including lying at the doors when he said he lived in Ward 3 during the campaign. We know now this was not true. Question does he even live in Ward 3 now?

  • Mike Ettlewood

    Well it’s heartwarming to learn that two novice campaigners, both in what were thought to be tight races, with every dollar counting and their war chests sparse and dwindling, still thought enough of each other to contribute the maximum to each other’s cause. And they say there is no honour or love amongst politicians!

    Honi soit qui may y pense. But then again, ……

    • Mike Ettlewood

      Sorry – didn’t catch my typo and apologies to Gwain and the the Knights of the green garter;
      “Honi soit qui mal y pense”

  • david barker

    @ Peppwr Parr, @Louise F Please explain the reasons to take this to be bad optics?

    • Louise F.

      I think the optics are obvious. While legal, it makes no sense why they would donate the maximum to each other’s campaigns. Why wouldn’t they keep their $1,200.00 and put it into their own campaign account??? The donations aren’t tax deductible so I’m not buying what either of them are selling.

  • Louise F.

    I commented on this very thing a couple of months ago so thanks for addressing this. Legal, yes, but in your words “the optics are terrible”.
    I don’t believe either of them. I still have my thoughts on who those donations came from.

  • david barker

    @pepperparr Please can you explain your innuenos of some form of wrongdoing. A number of times you clearly say the donations were legal and met election funding audit tests. So, they supported each other’s campaigns. What’s wrong with that? Is that not what happens every day of the week at the Provincial and Federal level? The party leader or other high profile party member who is also a candidate will visit the constituency and campaign for the party’s candidate. If financial contributions at the Provincial or Federal level are allowed from one candidate to another (I have no idea if they are or are not) I’m sure it happens, and why not?

    It seems you are doing a “National Enquirer”; creating fake news !

    Come on, say plainly what wrongdoing you believe may have been done, put up some proof – OR ZIP IT.

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