Setting the Record Straight: What Victoria Voters Need to Know About the October 2018 Municipal Election
I want to set the record straight and clear my name regarding complaints made about me, during the Victoria election in the fall of 2018 by Mike Geoghegan (and others unknown).
If you were involved in other campaigns who were spreading these ridiculous lies, or heard from any campaigns, or others, where you believed these lies, this website will let you know these complaints were groundless. Plain and Simple.
During Victoria’s election campaign, Mike Geoghegan made two formal complaints against me. There was a third complaint made about our campaign, but we aren’t being told who complained.
the law society of bc
As a lawyer, I am a member of the Law Society of B.C. Mr. Geoghegan submitted a form to the Law Society of BC on the night of September 25, 2018. In the Law Society’s form, in response to, “What does your complaint primarily concern?”
Geoghegan wrote the following
“ Mr. Hammond’s conduct reflects badly on the profession. Conduct unbecoming of a lawyer by communication with a wanted felon and engaging in unethical business transactions with a wanted felon for personal gain by defaming political rivals through anonymous online attack ads.”
“…this is a candidate for a major political office providing funds, and thus aiding and abetting a fugitive from justice. If Mr.Hammond wishes to suggest that he and his campaign have not provided many thousands of dollars to Paul Seal, then I have to question what promises and commitments has Mr.Hammond made to Paul Seal?”
You can read his entire complaint here.
You can read his media release of the same complaint here.
Here’s the Truth
Despite the requirement of confidentiality of these complaints, Mr. Geoghegan sent out media releases far and wide with the details of the complaint and began speaking far and wide about this complaint as if the allegations of the complaint were true.
These accusations were groundless and entirely false.
At a NewCouncil.ca campaign meeting, we decided not to discuss this complaint (or others that arose) because we felt it would just give more credence to their ridiculous and groundless accusations. I agreed to this and when asked, I stated these accusations were groundless….because they were.
I called the Law Society, asking if this process could be expedited, because the likely outcome would take place after the election, allowing Mr. Geoghegan and another candidate to keep talking about them as if there was truth to this. A day later I was told they could not expedite this and as per the normal process, the Law Society would send a letter to Mr. Geoghegan asking him to give evidence of these accusations.
A couple weeks after the elections, on November 8, 2018, the Law Society sent a letter to Mr. Geoghegan, asking for evidence. Needless to say, the Law Society did not receive a response from Mr. Geoghegan of any kind, let alone proof to back up his ridiculous accusations, and in a phone conversation with the Law Society I was told they formally closed the file.
There was no evidence of any kind because it never happened.
As a lawyer, I am a member of the Law Society of B.C. and therefore held to the very high standards of membership. I went to one of the best law schools in our country (Osgoode Hall) and articled with a highly respected law firm (Farris & Co.). I was Called to the Bar in 1988 and have been a member of the Law Society since. Many lawyers hold jobs involved with the law, yet not giving independent legal advice in a law firm and my route was in a non-practising role. I have kept up my membership for more than 30 years and am proud to be a lawyer, as well as a professional speaker.
Mr. Geoghegan had difficulty with the fact that in the World Wide Web, many people can say and write most anything they want. I spent most of my time canvassing with our many volunteers, for support at the doors of voters. I spent a lot of time working on policies and in meetings with our campaign. I spent a lot of time at all -candidate meetings. And I spent a few minutes in front of a phone recording statements for social media. However, I spent very, very little time on social media. For the most part I wasn’t concerned about what people had to say about me, as I thought it was a waste of my time. Anyone who is slagging me wasn’t the slightest bit interested in hearing what I had to say. However, I didn’t realize in our quaint community of Victoria the extent people were willing to go, to spread lies.
I have come to realize that there were a number of people who wanted to vote for someone other than Mayor Helps. Whether they liked me, or felt I had the best chance to defeat the mayor, some of these people posted information supporting me and opposing the other candidates. Images of me and my signs ended up on the various sites (I now know on Facebook, but not sure about elsewhere).
I know nothing about the origins of any of the information Mr. Geoghegan referred to. I, nor anyone on my campaign, paid a penny to anyone for what they were doing, nor for any future consideration.
In fact, ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke more than a year ago, Facebook made it very easy to tell if anyone has paid for any ads: You go to any Facebook page and on the left side of each page is a list, with the very bottom “info and ads”. When you click on it you can tell if anyone has paid for advertising. At no time was there any indication we (or anyone else for that matter) paid to advertise and promote these sites.
And as for any suggestion that I/we somehow knew criminals, were paying criminals to support us online, or were expecting payment in the future, this is a complete lie on the part of Mr. Geoghegan. In fact, to make such a libelous claim without a scintilla of evidence, is the kind of stuff that can get people in big trouble. And going forward, I reserve my right to take legal action against people who spread lies and malicious comments that bring my name and reputation into disrepute and have no basis in fact.
The victoria police department
On Sunday, September 30, 2018, the NewCouncil.ca campaign manager returned a phone call from a Victoria Police constable saying that Mike Geoghegan had walked into their police department that morning with copies of an email that Mr. Geoghegan said came from NewCouncil.ca and that this amounted to extortion. Our campaign manager spoke to the constable for a few minutes, explaining that our campaign had nothing to do with the email and was certainly not extorting another candidate. That was the end of our campaign’s conversation with the Victoria Police Department. No evidence was given to us, and no other evidence came from Mr. Geoghegan.
At the end of January, 2019, I contacted the police department in preparation to put all this to rest and was told by the Victoria Police that there was nothing brought to them that was within their jurisdiction, so they passed on this information to Elections BC.
A complaint of blackmail or extortion is very serious. No one, especially a person running for office should endure blackmail, in hopes of pressuring a candidate to change their position. However, such a serious complaint has to be backed up with facts and evidence. There is no evidence that our campaign had anything to do with this, yet Mr. Geoghegan stated that our campaign was involved. As well, there were numerous times at all-candidate meetings where I heard Mr. Geoghegan state that an active police investigation was going on against our campaign. Just because he had a theory that our campaign was involved, did not make it so.
There is a very important issue about someone trying to “blackmail” or “extort” a person, whether a candidate or any person. Here’s the issue: It’s impossible to threaten to expose information about a political candidate with information that has already been in the media for years. The “Jenny Kwan” information “Tim Stone” (is this a real person? I have no idea and I certainly don’t know a Tim Stone) referred to is something Mr. Geoghegan, himself said on November 20, 2003 on CFAX radio (live) about Jenny Kwan, a former MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and now the MP for Vancouver East.
After that CFAX show, stories related to his comments were picked up far and wide. My goal is not to sling mud, but to be clear that not only did we have nothing to do with a “threatening” email, but that this information was already out there and I never once made reference to it. The media stories covered Mr. Geoghegan’s comments, his apology, his being fired from the BC Construction Association and his threats to sue his former employer for being fired. A person can’t be blackmailed for misdeeds that made the front page of the Vancouver Sun, the front page of the “Capital” section of the Victoria Times Colonist and was picked up across Canada by the Canadian Press Wire service. It took very little effort to find articles and letters to the editor (some letters even supporting Mr. Geoghegan) about this incident in the Kamloops, Kimberley, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Nanaimo, Surrey, and Trail newspapers.
To see a couple newspaper articles click here.
Hence, to repeat, when Mr. Geoghegan said someone was trying to extort/blackmail him by revealing information, you’re going to have a hard time blackmailing him for facts that were blasted all over the country many years ago.
The Victoria Police told me there was nothing that involved a criminal matter, or for that matter, any evidence, other than the email provided and hence it was not within the jurisdiction of the police. There is no outstanding investigation about this matter with the police and Mr. Geoghegan gave the police no evidence to back up his claim that our campaign was in any way involved in an extortion…that didn’t exist.
I received a call from a senior investigator with Elections BC after my defeat in the election. I was told there were several complaints against me, suggesting I and/or my NewCouncil.ca team were paying or supporting people who were supporting me/us on Facebook, in contravention of the law.
When I asked who made the complaint, I was told all complaints were confidential and there was more than one person making such complaints. This is interesting because during the election, Mr. Geoghegan continually made reference to such complaints to Elections BC about me. I’m not sure where he got this confidential information.
During the phone conversation, the Elections BC investigator started naming various Facebook pages/sites stating, “As you know Mr. Hammond…” and then he began listing a few of these pages/sites. I stopped him mid-sentence to say I had no idea about any of the pages/sites he referred to. Not one. Full stop. I believe I explained that I spent most of my almost three months of the campaign knocking on doors, but for sure I told the Elections BC investigator I had no idea about any of the pages/sites he referred to. I asked him to send me a list of these pages and after a few days i got a list.
I attempted to open the first of these pages/sites and most of them no longer existed. When I called the Elections BC investigator to say I had no knowledge of who was the author of these pages/sites, the investigator said that the best way to clear this up was for me to sign a declaration stating that I had not paid/sponsored anyone to make these posts.
Without remembering exactly what I said, I’m pretty sure I suggested that they might want me to sign a declaration that I haven’t clubbed baby seals, in case anyone made that allegation about me. I do remember being very adamant that under no circumstances would I be signing any such declaration. I had asked everyone of our candidates and our campaign manager if for some bizarre reason we had paid anyone to create these Facebook pages. Every person told me emphatically that there was no truth to any of it. I even asked everyone twice, just to be sure I wouldn’t be blindsided for being so adamant.
I made it clear to the Elections BC investigator that if he had “one scintilla” of evidence that we were involved, then he could let me know and I’ll/we’ll deal with it. Until then, I wasn’t going to sign anything, as if there was any truth to these ridiculous claims and then I’d be giving them some credence.
Anyone reading this might find this as interesting as I do. If there was any evidence whatsoever that I/we were involved in these posts and in violation of the law, it’s very strange that my mere signature would allow them to wipe their hands clean, saying, “Ok everyone, you know all that cogent evidence we have? Well, it now means nothing and we can wrap up this thorough investigation - because Stephen Hammond signed on the dotted line.”
You don’t have to be a lawyer to appreciate “natural justice.” Under the Elections BC law, presumably any person can make any complaint they want anonymously, and without one speck (I mean one scintilla) of actual evidence, then the accused has to disprove something didn’t happen. This is not natural justice and it’s ridiculous that I would have been approached without one tiny bit of evidence that I/we was involved in anything illegal or underhanded.
In late December, I emailed Elections BC, asking them for the progress of these complaints. On December 31st I received an email saying the file is still open and he would contact me “early in the new year.” It was only after repeated phone calls and emails to the Elections BC office in April that I received an email stating the file was still open, but again, with my signature, this would all go away. You can see in the email exchange their evidence is some person (unknown to me/us) representing my campaign, had told two witnesses (unknown to me/us) that we could circumvent the election advertising rules and another witness (unknown to me/us) said a known criminal would have a contract to promote my/our campaign.
Hence we have anonymous witnesses stating some unknown person representing my/our campaign engaged in illegal activities. No evidence that it actually happened. No evidence of any money changing hands. No evidence of an actual violation of the law. Did these complaints come from another candidate(s)? Did they come from workers of another candidate(s)? We have no idea.
What we seem to have is some people who were promoting me for mayor, without my knowledge nor consent. That is not a violation of the law.
There were obviously people who wanted Mayor Helps defeated and obviously some people believed I had the best chance of defeating her. Some of these people took actions that others didn’t like, but I didn’t know a thing about them and I can’t be responsible for the actions of others. And if you think I should have been condemning such actions, you need to know how little time I spent on social media and how I wasn’t going to waste my time for things that had nothing to do with my/our campaign. And to repeat, all of the Facebook pages/sites sent to me by Elections BC, I had never seen them prior to that email, which was after the election.
To see the entire email correspondence with elections B.C click here.