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Ford critic seeks audit of Mammoliti's campaign finances

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is accused of failing to report key campaign expenses during his run for the mayoralty.

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

A retired Toronto teacher has launched a compliance audit request against Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, alleging that the outspoken North York veteran failed to report key campaign expenses and exceeded the $27,464 spending limit for local races, according to documents filed with the Toronto Elections office this week.

In his submission to council's compliance audit committee, David DePoe, an Annex resident and outspoken critic of Mayor Rob Ford's policies, pointed to alleged unexplained discrepancies in Mr. Mammoliti's financial statements. He cited invoices submitted with Mr. Mammoliti's election documents that itemize more than $9,100 in outlays for advertising, brochures and various office expenses that he says are not accounted for in the supplementary financial statements, submitted in September.

Mr. DePoe, who earlier this year challenged Mr. Ford's campaign expenses, also contends that the campaign expense documents do not include rent payments for an election office at 2958 Islington Ave., even though Mr. Mammoliti's filings include $11,391.02 in other office-related expenses.

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"The rental paid or contribution received of this space for campaign operations is not included in his September 29, 2011 Form 4, financial statement and auditor's report, in contravention of the Municipal Elections Act," Mr. DePoe states in a letter accompanying his submission, which goes on to describe the missing rent expense as "an unreported contribution by the owner of the space used as a campaign office."

Corporate donations in cash or in kind are not permitted under City of Toronto election rules.

Mr. Mammoliti, whose City Hall office is closed for the holidays, could not be reached for comment.

The filing marks the second time this year that he has faced a compliance audit request. The three-person committee, comprised of two lawyers and a former City of Toronto elections officer, dismissed the original motion in July, along with requests targeting councillors Michael Thompson, James Pasternak and Doug Ford, all allies of the mayor. At the time, Mr. Mammoliti dismissed the accusations as "frivolous" and raised the spectre of a conspiracy against members of council's right.

So far this year, the committee, which does not report to council, has issued a compliance audit request against Mayor Ford, whose lawyers have asked the courts to set aside the order, as well as former North York councillor Peter LiPreti.

Under the Municipal Elections Act, any resident may request a compliance audits of a candidate's campaign finances for up to 90 days after the deadline for submitting financial statements or supplementary statements. The deadline is Friday.

Spreadsheets prepared by Mr. DePoe based on campaign disclosure documents show that Mr. Mammoliti, after bowing out of the mayoral race in early July, spent $36,522.58 on fundraising activities, ultimately amassing a war chest of $86,585 in contributions from voters. Such outlays, however, are not counted against the statutory spending limit.

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According to Mr. Mammoliti's financial statements, his campaign spent almost $11,000 in legal and accounting fees defending the initial compliance audit request.

A compliance audit is a forensic review of a campaign's finances, and the auditor has the right to investigate any aspect of the operation. Once complete, the auditor reports his findings to the committee, which in turn may recommend penalties ranging from fines to removal from public office if the review has turned up violations of the act.

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