Rob Ford’s 2010 mayoral campaign broke election finance law, according to a long-awaited auditor’s report.
The report, by Froese Forensic Partners, was made public on the City’s website earlier this afternoon. It alleges that the Mayor exceeded his legally mandated campaign spending limit by $40,168. (The spending limit was $1,305,066.65.) The report also presents evidence of numerous other possible violations of the Municipal Elections Act, a piece of provincial legislation that sets out rules for how cities in Ontario conduct their elections.
The MEA describes a number of penalties for violations, including fines, expulsion from office, and even jail time. It will be a while yet before we know whether or not Mayor Ford will face any of those consequences, or even if he’s actually in violation. The City has a panel of citizen experts called the Compliance Audit Committee that will meet on February 25 to decide whether or not to take the Mayor to court. If the committee decides to press ahead, the courts will ultimately decide whether the mayor acted illegally. The Star reports that it’s almost unheard of for Ontario politicians to face the MEA’s stiffest penalties in cases like these. Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni was convicted of breaching the MEA, and was fined $4,500 and made to write an essay for a magazine called Municipal World.
This audit came about as a result of a complaint by Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, an activist, and Max Reed, a lawyer. They filed their allegations with the City in May, 2011. Chaleff-Fruedenthaler also played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing about the conflict of interest charges that recently almost resulted in Mayor Ford’s removal from office.
And Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed have released a statement, through their lawyer:
Today the audit of Rob Ford’s election campaign finances was released. The audit revealed more than 100 apparent contraventions of the Municipal Elections Act, including the finding that Ford spent more than $40,000 above his legal spending limit. Additionally, the auditors found that Ford, in apparent contravention of election laws, accepted corporate donations, received a loan from Ford’s family company (Doug Ford Holding Inc), and began spending money before the campaign was legally permitted.
Based on the extraordinary number and severity of the apparent contraventions of election law by Rob Ford, the applicants will be requesting the Compliance Audit Committee proceed with prosecution in a timely manner.
[Disclosure: Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler is Torontoist editor-in-chief Hamutal Dotan's partner; she was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.]