Skip to content

Newmarket deputy mayor declares election campaign deficit

Tom Vegh files for extension on filing election expenses, says future audited statement will 'speak for itself'

Newmarket Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh has once again gone into deficit for an election campaign and has sought a deadline extension to balance his books.

Vegh has filed a notice of the extension to declare his 2022 municipal election campaign in deficit, which gives him until June 30 — past the March 31 deadline —to complete filings. He did the same thing in 2018, when self-funding limits meant he went into deficit and received donations after the election was won.

Vegh said a campaign auditor is in the process of completing an audited financial statement.

“Once my audited statement is received by the Town of Newmarket, we will let it speak for itself,” Vegh said in response to an interview request.

Although many Newmarket candidates have yet to file their 2022 election financial statements, none of the eight who have filed so far have asked for an extension.

Deputy mayor candidate opponent Gordon Prentice was critical of Vegh's record of funding his campaigns with developer donations. Similar to the 2022 campaign, Vegh's 2018 campaign had a deficit. In attempting to balance an approximately $30,000 deficit after the election, more than half of those who donated to him were part of the development community.

With Prentice attacking Vegh on the issue of a developer-supported campaign, Vegh promised he would not take donations from developers in the 2022 election and his campaign material indicated he would self-finance.

“I respect that (there are) people who would prefer you don't accept donations from anybody who's doing any business of any kind with the town,” he said at the time. “I just got to respect that.”

The most anyone running for council in Newmarket, or their spouse, could contribute under Ontario campaign finance law was just more than $17,000. Other individuals can only contribute up to $1,200 per candidate, to a maximum of $5,000 in one jurisdiction.

According to the provincial candidate’s guide, exceeding the spending limit carries an automatic penalty of forfeiting office and being unable to run until after 2026. Other penalties if guilty of an offence can include fines and prison time.

Prentice has filed campaign expenses of $7,452, with a surplus of $1,495. He and his spouse contributed about $3,500, with $5,300 garnered in donations. Most of the monetary contributions to Prentice ranged from $100 to $250, with Paul Popper ($1,100), Heather Burling ($500), Margaret Davis ($500) and Ron Eibel ($400 in YouTube video services) exceeding that.

Prentice said he has no issue with Vegh having likely outspent him, assuming Vegh followed all the rules.

“It was his decision to spend the money and it was my decision not to spend,” he said. “But where it becomes an issue is if Tom Vegh spent more than what was allowed.”

But there is no indication yet that occurred.

“I’m just waiting to see Tom Vegh’s campaign returns, just like everyone else,” Prentice said, adding he has made it clear publicly that he will go through Vegh’s returns “with a fine-tooth comb.”

NewmarketToday will follow-up on this story when details on Vegh’s campaign expenses are available, and will also report on the filings from all other candidates. 

Editor's note, March 9, 2023: This article has been altered to clarify Tom Vegh's quote. While it previously said the town would approve the audited financial statement, Vegh asked to correct it as the town does not approve campaign financial statements.