OTTAWA -- Coun. Laura Dudas could be facing legal proceedings over her 2018 campaign finances.

The city’s election compliance committee decided to commence legal proceedings against Dudas for “an apparent contravention of the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act.”

The committee announced its decision to start legal proceedings against Dudas after an external audit by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton found “apparent non-compliance” in her campaign expenses.

Committee member Catherine Bergeron read the decision Tuesday morning, saying the “apparent contraventions are too numerous and give the committee concern that the values of public accountability and transparency have not been respected during Ms. Dudas campaign.”

“The apparent contraventions of this number are inconsistent with the maintenance of public confidence and the maintenance of the electoral process.”

The City of Ottawa will hire an outside lawyer to assess the material and decide the next steps.

The committee decided to audit Dudas’s campaign finances in July after a complaint from a member of the public.

The complaint accused Dudas of spending or receiving contributions before she officially filed her nomination papers on May 4, 2018. The complaint also said Dudas was using her 2014 campaign signs throughout the ward, despite saying “nothing was utilized from her previous campaign.”

Candidates cannot incur expenses before officially filing their nomination papers.

The audit by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton found there is apparent non-compliance of the Municipal Elections Act for both complaints.

According to the Municipal Elections Act, if you are convicted of an offence, you may be subject to the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $25,000
  • Ineligibility to vote or run in the next general election
  • Up to six months in prison
  • Forfeiture of your elected office, if the judge finds that you committed the offence knowingly

Dudas did not respond to CTV News Ottawa’s inquiry for a comment after the election compliance committee made its decision.