Former B.C. solicitor-general Kash Heed will not lose his seat in the provincial legislature over a spending scandal that has enveloped his election campaign.
A lawyer for the province's chief electoral officer agreed with Mr. Heed's own lawyer at a B.C. Supreme Court hearing in Kelowna on Tuesday that the rookie MLA should not lose his Vancouver seat for exceeding by $5,000 the $70,000 campaign spending limit set out in the Elections Act.
It remains to be seen whether Heed will have to pay the penalty set out in the act for such a violation – a $10,000 fine.
The judge reserved his decision in the case.
Mr. Heed's lawyer, David Gruber, said his client acted in good faith and should not be penalized.
"It was the evidence of Mr. Heed ad the financial agent that they didn't know about those expenses," Mr. Gruber said outside the court after the hearing.
Mr. Heed has twice been forced to step down as solicitor-general because of the allegations surrounding campaign spending on two controversial pamphlets distributed in his riding during the 2009 provincial election campaign and payments to campaign workers.
In April, a special prosecutor announced 14 charges against two of Mr. Heed's campaign aides, but said there was no evidence the former West Vancouver police chief knew of the financial irregularities.
Despite the special prosecutor's finding, Mr. Heed remained embroiled in the dispute with the chief electoral officer, who demanded the MLA file an updated expense report reflecting the undeclared spending.
"There are charges pending against the campaign manager, the official agent Barinder Sall, and another campaign worker that suggest that there were campaign expenses that they incurred without those going through the books that were maintained by the financial agent," Mr. Gruber told reporters.
"It was the evidence of Mr. Heed and the financial agent that they didn't know about those expenses and that they had instructed the campaign staff not to do that."
Mr. Heed was originally cleared by one special prosecutor of campaign improprieties involving the pamphlets, but the second was appointed to look at the matter again after the original special prosecutor revealed his firm had donated $1,000 to the provincial Liberals.
In April the second special prosecutor, Peter Wilson, announced that there was insufficient proof that Mr. Heed was involved in the production of the controversial pamphlets that initiated the investigation, in filing the false election financing report at the centre of his dispute with the chief electoral officer, or that Mr. Heed knowingly made improper payments to his campaign staff.
He said there would be no charges against Mr. Heed for filing a false election financing report because there was "no reliable, independent evidence Mr. Heed knew of or heard of unreported election expenses."