More details are emerging about a mysterious third-party sponsor who tried influencing the course of the Squamish election with attack ads.
Elections BC has released third-party financial disclosure statements, including those of Dikran Bedirian, who previously ran negative campaign ads as Squamish Now this past fall's election.
Elections officials forced Squamish Now to change its name to make it consistent with the name Elections BC had in its third-party registry.
Bedirian ran several ads on social media and was behind a mail-in flyer campaign that blanketed post boxes in town. The campaign's primary target was Armand Hurford, who was then running for mayor.
This person's motives remain unclear and there is no information on what connections or interests they have in Squamish.
According to the financial disclosures that were released on Feb. 2, Bedirian's mailing address is on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
The financial statement says that Bedirian spent a total of $5,280.55 on election expenses.
In the pre-campaign period, $3,161.55 was spent on promotional materials, including brochures, among other things, the filing said. There was also $1,266.62 spent on social media advertising in this time frame.
However, during the campaign period, the statement said that the only expense was $852.38 on social media ads.
The campaign period expense limit was $1,023.96 during the 2022 election, and applied from Sept. 17 to Oct. 15 last year.
In a written statement, Elections BC told The Squamish Chief on Feb. 2 that its review of Dikran Bedirian's disclosures is ongoing.
"Our compliance, audit and investigation work for the 2022 General Local Elections is ongoing," wrote spokesperson Melanie Hull in an email. "Reports are published as they are received, but may be amended as part of our compliance and audit activities. Any administrative monetary penalties levied are published on our website ... Our website is updated every Wednesday if there are new penalties to report."
With respect to the composition of Bedirian's finances as a third-party sponsor, the filing states that $2,750 of Bedirian's funds were the result of 55 anonymous contributions. Contributors can remain anonymous if they spend less than $100.
For contributions over $100, Bedirian was the sole person who contributed an amount at that level. They contributed a total of $2,530.55 to their election spending. The first donation was $1,250 on Sept. 13, 2022.
The second was $1,280.55 paid on Jan. 2, 2023.
It's possible to contribute money after an election. One of the more common reasons is to help pay off debts.
The Squamish Chief called the phone number Bedirian registered in the statement, but the number is not assigned to any phone. The Squamish Chief previously made repeated contacts to phone numbers, an email address, and a Facebook account associated with Bedirian, but there have never been any responses to requests for comment.