The long-awaited forensic audit of Mayor Rob Ford’s 2010 election finances will be released in January, coinciding with the appeal of a conflict of interest ruling that threatens to remove him from office.
According to Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, a Toronto resident who requested the compliance audit in the spring of 2011, the report had been slated for release in November, but was delayed when auditor Bruce Armstrong “unearthed something new.”
“The audit has been seven months in the making, and we have high hopes that it will be comprehensive,” he said.
Mr. Chaleff-Freudenthaler and activist Max Reed launched the complaint after The Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Ford used a family holding company to finance election expenses. They also alleged that his campaign overspent the allowable limit.
While council’s compliance audit committee upheld the complaint, lawyers for the mayor initially challenged the decision in court, insisting he had not broken the rules. Mr. Ford subsequently dropped his appeal and pledged to co-operate with the forensic auditor.
The penalties for violating the Municipal Elections Act range from fines to being banned from seeking public office.
The drawn out process has had a direct impact on the mayor’s supporters. Because Mr. Ford’s campaign finances have been subject to scrutiny, the city’s election officials have not been able to issue reimbursement cheques to his donors. Under city rules, voters who donate to council campaigns are reimbursed for up to 75 per cent of the contribution.
In recent years, Hamilton mayor Larry Di Ianni and Vaughan politicians Linda Jackson and Michael Di Biase have been the subject of compliance audits. The audit of Mr. Di Ianni’s finances was released on the eve of his 2006 re-election campaign. He was defeated in the election.
Special to The Globe and Mail