After pledging to reimburse the City of Toronto $1579.15 for embossed business cards produced by his family firm, Mayor Rob Ford has gone a significant step further by picking up the tab for an additional $2,420.85 in office expenses related to newspaper subscriptions and mileage charges.
He informed the city clerk’s office on Nov. 1 with a letter now posted on the city’s councillor expense website. “I am continuing my commitment to respect tax dollars which I demonstrated throughout my ten years as a Councillor by keeping the office expenses paid by taxpayers down to the essentials,” Mr. Ford said in a statement provided to The Globe and Mail.
But the move hasn’t mollified Toronto resident Jude MacDonald, who last summer filed a complaint with Toronto integrity commissioner Janet Leiper, claiming that the mayor hadn’t fully disclosed all his office expenses.
Ms. MacDonald this week notified Ms. Leiper that she wishes to step up her complaint, alleging in a Nov. 3 affidavit that the mayor violated the council code of conduct by obstructing Ms. Leiper’s investigation.
In her new filing, Ms. MacDonald called for an audit of the mayor’s expenses and said Mr. Ford failed to acknowledge that he had ordered business cards from Deco Labels and Tags in a July 21, 2011, letter to Ms. Leiper. That letter stated that the mayor’s office relied on colour photocopiers to produce stationary and had no need to go to outside suppliers. The letter made no reference to Deco.
The Deco invoice, for 20,600 business cards and originally obtained by The Globe and Mail in an access to information request, is dated March 30, 2011. It did not appear on the mayor’s office expense disclosure until late October.
Adrienne Batra, a spokesperson for Mr. Ford, said in an e-mail that his office only used the photocopiers to produce letterhead, not business cards. She added that Ms. MacDonald’s complaint focused on “the lack of expenses for office supplies, not where they were procured from.”
Ms. Batra also noted that “[w]en he was a Councillor for 10 years, the Mayor always covered the costs of his business cards out of his own pocket. The fact that he is doing so again as Mayor should be neither new nor unanticipated.”
In October 2002, council, after a heated debate, passed a policy on the use of corporate logos that explicitly prohibited councillors from paying for City of Toronto business cards using their personal funds. Mr. Ford voted against the policy.
In subsequent city reports on councillor expenses, Mr. Ford never disclosed his purchase of cards, despite policies that supplies paid for with personal funds must be reported to the city clerk. His office expense invoices did, however, include receipts for access to information requests about other councillors’ office budgets.
Mr. Ford’s practice of purchasing printed materials from Deco only came to light officially during a 2007 probe by auditor-general Jeff Griffiths and former integrity commissioner David Mullan.
The mayor's office refused to comment on the latest allegations by Ms. MacDonald.
Special to the Globe and Mail