The developer behind the project to move Moncton High School out to Royal Oaks sent cheques to council candidates during the May municipal election, CBC News has learned.
The mayor and five councillors — who were among those who received cheques from the Romspen Investment Corporation — say they returned them.
But now a councillor is calling for a new law to force municipal politicians to reveal where their money comes from.
"There could not be a better case or better example of the dangers of not having to report what we receive from whom," said Coun. Daniel Bourgeois.
He says no one would have ever known that Rompsen sent him a cheque for $250.
Bourgeois refused the money, saying it was inappropriate for a developer to be sending money to politicians in the middle of a controversial issue.
But the situation illustrates the need for legislative changes, he said.
Money to encourage 'quality candidates'
The Romspen Investment Corporation sent "approximately $2,500" in donations, according to Greg Coleman, project manager of Royal Oaks.
Coleman was unavailable for an interview Tuesday, but in an email, he said the money was meant to encourage good candidates.
"Elections are very expensive to run and we, along with many other companies and individuals, are prepared to provide small amounts of financial support to people who stand for public office," the email states.
"In the case of Moncton I have been impressed with a number of the individuals and their commitment to the city and authorized small donations to their re-election campaigns."
'Really it's the wild west, municipal politics. There are absolutely no rules. I was completely shocked when I got into it.'—Coun. Dawn Arnold
No individual received more than $500, Coleman said.
"It is important that people support the election process so that we continue to get good quality candidates at all levels."
There are currently no rules governing such donations in New Brunswick, which surprised first-time candidate Dawn Arnold.
"Really it's the wild west, municipal politics," the councillor said.
"There are absolutely no rules. I was completely shocked when I got into it."
Coun. Charles Leger was also taken aback by the lack of rules, given the potential for conflicts of interest.
"I would be all for making those contributions public," he said.
"I certainly didn't have anything to hide and I don't have anything to hide now."
Coun. Pierre Boudreau said he agrees with the need for financial disclosure rules..
They, like Bourgeois, all returned their cheques, as did Coun. Brian Hicks and Mayor George LeBlanc.
The other councillors say they never received a cheque.
Coun. Paulette Thériault says she doesn't know because she had a committee running her finances.