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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes part in his weekly AM1010 talk show, in Toronto, Nov. 3, 2013. The mayor apologized for unspecified past transgressions but refused to step down as mayor. (J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes part in his weekly AM1010 talk show, in Toronto, Nov. 3, 2013. The mayor apologized for unspecified past transgressions but refused to step down as mayor. (J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail)

The record vs. Rob Ford: 9 questionable claims, fact-checked Add to ...

After launching a media blitz earlier this week, Mayor Rob Ford appears to have gone silent.

The media offensive followed a scandal-plagued month for Mr. Ford in which he admitted to smoking crack cocaine, drinking to excess and driving after drinking. The mayor had much to say in those interviews, some of which contain apparent inconsistencies.

As of Wednesday, it appeared the mayor was finished with interviews. “I do not believe that there is going to be any current media availability at this time,” the mayor’s new chief of staff told the Toronto Star.

Here are some of the mayor’s recent statements, fact-checked:

Claim: Mr. Ford says he’s never misused taxpayers’ money.

On Nov. 18, Mr. Ford told CBC’s Peter Mansbridge: “There’s not one time, Peter, not one time you’ll ever find me stealing a dime of taxpayers’ money. Ever.”

Check: Mr. Ford’s former employees told police they ran personal errands for Mr. Ford. Former staffer Chris Fickel told investigators he bought alcohol for the mayor and changed light bulbs, replaced batteries in his children’s toys and bought cartons of cigarettes, bleach, laundry detergent and Diet Coke for his wife. Former aide Kia Nejatian told police that former chief of staff Mark Towhey wanted the mayor to hire a personal assistant using his own money to do his personal errands instead of using staff.

Claim:
That Mr. Ford has never missed a day of work.

Mr. Ford has said he has never missed a day of work and that he has the best attendance record of anyone on council. He told Fox News on Nov. 17: “I’ve never missed one day of council.”

Check:
Attendance records kept by the city show Mr. Ford was absent for parts of dozens of city council meetings. Kia Nejatian told police Mr. Ford “missed work and cancelled appointments frequently at the beginning of his” term as mayor, according to a police summary of the interview. According to a police document, officers conducting surveillance saw Mr. Ford meet with his friend Alessandro Lisi, a suspected drug dealer, multiple times during normal working hours during the summer.

Claim:
Mr. Ford has never been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work.

Mr. Ford told Fox News on Nov. 17: “I’ve never been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at a council meeting or any time in office.” On Nov. 19, he told CP24: “I’ve been straight as an arrow, every day, for 13 years down there.”

Check:
Chris Fickel told police he had seen Mr. Ford intoxicated “numerous times including at the office, football practices and events,” according to the police summary. Mr. Fickel said Mr. Ford was drunk at the office up to 20 times in one year, usually after 11 a.m. on weekdays. Mr. Fickel said he and other staffers bought alcohol for the mayor. Mark Towhey told police he believed Mr. Ford drank alcohol at the office and Mr. Nejatian told police he found what he suspected to be a marijuana cigarette in Mr. Ford’s desk in February or March of this year. As well, a report by City Hall security staff about St. Patrick’s Day 2012 said that an intoxicated Mr. Ford returned to City Hall around 2 a.m. and visited the security desk with a half-empty bottle of brandy.

Claim:
Mr. Ford didn’t admit to having smoked crack cocaine earlier because journalists didn’t ask him.

When Mr. Ford admitted to having smoked crack cocaine in a drunken stupor on Nov. 5, he said he hadn’t come clean earlier because journalists had never asked him the right question. “I wasn’t lying,” he told reporters. “You didn’t ask the correct questions. No, I’m not an addict and no, I do not do drugs.”

Check:
Mr. Ford has been asked repeatedly whether he had ever used illegal drugs. For instance, on May 30, a reporter asked the mayor: “Have you done any illegal drugs since you’ve been mayor?” Mr. Ford responded: “Anything else?” In an interview the day before Mr. Ford’s admission, AM640 host John Oakley asked: “Have you used crack?” Mr. Ford replied: “Johnny, listen, I’m not a drug addict. I’m not an alcoholic. … I can assure you, Johnny, I do not use drugs.”

Claim:
Mr. Ford hasn’t smoked crack cocaine in more than a year.

Mr. Ford said he hasn’t smoked crack cocaine “in over a year” in an interview with CNN that aired on Nov. 18.

Check:
The video that apparently shows Mr. Ford smoking crack was filmed in February, according to a police document released earlier this week.

Claim:
That 15 Windsor Road, the home Mr. Ford is photographed in front of in the infamous photo with Anthony Smith, is not “a crack house.”

In city council and interviews with reporters, Mr. Ford has repeatedly said that the home, where the crack video is also believed to have been filmed, is not a drug house, but rather, “a house with a family with a father and a mother and three sons and a daughter.”

Check:
According to a police document, surveillance crews watching the house believed it to be a “Trap House (crack house).” A separate police informant also told police “The house belongs to a couple of crack heads but Dixon guys go there often to ‘chop’ crack or just hang out and get drunk.” Several neighbours also told The Globe they suspected drug activity at the home.

The house is owned by Lina Basso, and also home to at least two of her grown children, Elena Johnson and Fabio Basso. Ms. Johnson has a lengthy criminal record, including multiple convictions for drug possession, a conviction of drug trafficking, theft, and communicating for the purpose of prostitution. Her brother Fabio also has a criminal record including a conviction for fraud, possession of a prohibited weapon, and possession of narcotics.

David Price, the mayor’s former staffer and long-time friend, said that he has known the home’s occupants since the mid-nineties. Mr. Price said that he has seen Elena appear “high” in the past, and that he has heard that Fabio was involved in the illegal drug trade. Despite this, according to the police document, Mr. Price used the 15 Windsor Road home as an “ad-hock [sic] office” during a 2005 campaign.

Police also wondered whether Mayor Ford was paying the bills at the Windsor Road home, after a former staffer passed on a notebook that listed the address along with a record of bills and calls made to the water department on behalf of the home.

Claim:
That he was elected into office with the largest majority in Canadian history.

“The people elected me, the largest mandate in Canada’s history,” Mayor Ford told the CBC on Monday night.

Check:
Mayor Ford’s 2010 election win wasn’t even the largest majority in Toronto’s history, let alone Canada’s. Mayor Ford won 383,501 votes in the 2010 election – about 47 per cent of the votes. Mel Lastman won the mayoralty 10 years earlier with about 100,000 more votes than Mr. Ford – nearly 80 per cent of total votes going to him.

Claim:
That he hasn’t known his friend and alleged drug dealer Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi for more than two years.

In an interview with CP24 Tuesday, Mayor Ford said “I didn’t even know Mr. Lisi two years ago.”

Check:
A letter written on Mayor Ford’s official City of Toronto letterhead and signed by Mr. Ford himself claims that Mr. Lisi worked on his 2010 election campaign. The letter, dated June 4, 2013, was intended as a character reference for Mr. Lisi, who had just been convicted of threatening death against an ex-girlfriend.

Claim:
That police overstepped their bounds by following him in an investigation only targeting Mr. Lisi. In a CP24 interview, Mr. Ford asked “Why do they have planes following me around? What does that have to do with Mr. Lisi? What does the Bier Markt two years ago St. Patrick’s Day party in my office have to do with Mr. Lisi?”

Check:
The nearly 500-page document clearly shows that the drug investigation known as Project Brazen 2 targeted both Mayor Ford and Mr. Lisi. The document states that the police investigation was specifically launched in May to investigate the report of a video showing Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Later in the document, Mayor Ford’s name appears under the heading “Numbers I have for targets in this investigation.”

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