Toronto mayoral hopeful David Soknacki has filed a freedom of information request with the city to see if Mayor Rob Ford is using his publicly funded staff and office for campaign purposes.
Mr. Soknacki’s campaign manager Brian Kelcey filed the request Tuesday morning, asking for e-mails and other communications by the mayor and his staffers to see if the mayor has been using his office staff and time to organize campaign activities and events.
In particular, Mr. Kelcey singled out the mayor’s brother and campaign manager, Councillor Doug Ford, as cause for concern.
“He’s a Ford family mascot and spokesperson, and he’s also the mayor’s campaign manager,” he said. “As a regular visitor to the mayor’s office during the rare occasions he’s actually in his office, we believe that there’s reasonable cause to suspect or at least inquire as to whether there are campaign activities taking place or campaign conversations taking place in the mayor’s office.”
Mr. Kelcey said the Ford Nation YouTube series, which made its debut last week, is just one example of the type of behaviour he is concerned about.
The mayor faced criticism last week, after the official announcement for his campaign-style YouTube series was sent by his office staff and using his official e-mail. The mayor’s spokesman, Amin Massoudi, said the videos were produced by staffers volunteering their time.
“Voters should care about this for the same reason that Rob Ford has always told us through his whole career that we should care about this,” he said. “The public pays for a mayor’s office. The public pays a mayor. And the public pays Councillor Ford to do public work. Not to do private work.”
But Councillor Ford said Tuesday that “it’s not the case” that the mayor’s office is being used as campaign headquarters. He said the campaign is in the process of setting up an office in Scarborough, as well as Etobicoke and possibly North York.
The city’s integrity commissioner received several complaints about the YouTube series, the mayor’s office said Tuesday.
“We spoke with the integrity commissioner. She gave us advice that she’d rather not see it done through the mayor’s office, so we’re gonna follow the integrity commissioner’s advice,” Councillor Ford said. “The new one’s not going through the mayor’s office now.”