As It Happens

Councillor from Cape Breton goes public with blackmail allegations

A Nova Scotia municipal councillor explains how someone tried to blackmail him by threatening to expose a call he once made to a male escort service.
Steve Sampson alleges he was defamed by Facebook posts. (CBC)

A municipal councillor from Cape Breton's Richmond County says he's the target of a blackmail attempt over expense reports recently released to the public.

Steve Sampson, a councillor for the last 25 years, says he received a letter Tuesday containing a photocopy of a 2014 hotel bill. It included a phone call to a male escort agency for $1.29. Sampson was on county business at the time and says he believes he paid the county back for the expense but can't remember. It is also the practice of the county to give a $10.00 per diem for random expenses while travelling.

RELATED: Richmond County councillor says he's being blackmailed over male escort call

The unsigned letter demanded Sampson resign as councillor by Friday, April 8 and never run for office again.

In response, Sampson held a press conference to go public with the blackmail attempt.

A municipal councillor in Cape Breton's Richmond County says he's the target of a blackmail attempt over expense reports recently released to the public.

The following is an excerpt of our interview with Steve Sampson:

Carol Off: Is this an effort to out you in some way?

Steve Sampson:  It may well be. You know there are those the people who've expressed very openly, out in public, that they would like to see me gone. Certainly our chief administrative officer has been in the line of attack and you know, sometimes people do nasty things to achieve results.

CO: This is something private from your hotel bill. How do you feel about that being made so public?

SS: That's exactly how I feel. I feel it is a private and personal matter. It is not a public information piece. I can tell you based on the overwhelming support that I've received, that's the universal message out there—this is 2016, you know? Your private life is simply that, your private life.

CO: What do you make of the fact that somebody in your community thought that they could force you out in this way?

SS: Well it's disheartening. It's very very disappointing. I believe something like this is obviously very personal. I've been wracking my brains trying to think of the who I may have affected in such a great fashion that would lead [them] to conduct [themselves] in such a disgusting way.

CO: You have turned this over to the RCMP? Are police treating this as a crime?

SS: Very much so. All the obvious probing questions were asked by the Sergeant at the St Peter's detachment and his conclusion was that this is definitely a criminal matter. Blackmail is a criminal offence, especially of a public official. They're going to pursue the matter.

This interview was condensed and edited for length and clarity. Click the link above to hear the interview in it's entirety.