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Deco Labels and Tags is the Ford family’s business.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's auditor general says the city's integrity commissioner should consider launching an investigation after it was revealed this week that the Ford brothers helped a printing firm lobby city staff for contracts without disclosing that their family business was trying to strike a deal with the same firm.

A Globe and Mail investigation found that Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford helped printing giant RR Donnelley and Sons lobby the City of Toronto for work – without telling city staff that the Fords' Deco Labels and Tags was negotiating an agreement that would see Donnelley refer clients to Deco.

On Friday, Doug Ford – who refused to provide comments to The Globe earlier this week – broke his silence, saying Donnelley has referred "zero" business to Deco over the years. He declined to make further comment.

Auditor General Jeff Griffiths told The Globe Friday that he'd like to see an investigation. "It's an issue that should be referred to [integrity commissioner] Janet Leiper," Mr. Griffiths said.

The integrity commissioner's office only launches investigations in cases where formal complaints have been made, and a representative from Ms. Leiper's office said Friday that the office would not comment on whether a complaints have been received or an investigation launched with respect to the Globe report.

The Globe investigation, which showed that the Fords repeatedly intervened on Donnelley's behalf – including Mayor Ford personally calling the city's director of purchasing to arrange a meeting with Donnelley representatives – sparked criticism from Mayor Ford's election rivals this week.

At an Etobicoke debate held in Mayor Ford's absence Wednesday night (the mayor is on a temporary leave while receiving treatment at a Muskoka rehab facility), John Tory described the allegations facing the Fords as "mixing up public and private."

Olivia Chow, meanwhile, said the mayor and Councillor Ford's behaviour was "not acceptable, not appropriate, and it's definitely not ethical."

And Karen Stintz said Friday it was "unfortunate that the mayor and his brother put the bureaucracy into that position." She said that, while she shares the mayor's desire to have businesses succeed in the city, "we need to ensure that the rules apply to everyone fairly."

From May 2011 to June 2011, Councillor Ford met three times with lobbyists from Donnelley Canada, who were seeking to review and takeover part of the city's $9-million in-house printing operation, according to the lobbyist registry and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Around the same time, one of those lobbyists, a Donnelley official named Barry Waddick, toured the Fords' manufacturing facility and was arranging to refer Donnelley customers in need of labels to their family business, according to a former Deco vice president, Leonard Rudner.

Until Friday, no one from Donnelley or Deco would say how much, if any, business that company had passed on to the Ford family firm.

Councillor Ford has also declined to answer questions about how it came to be that Mr. Waddick toured Deco that day and why no one disclosed to the bureaucrats that were being lobbied that the Fords had a potential commercial interest in Donnelley.

With files from Greg McArthur and Robyn Doolittle