UPDATED: Audit finds Rob Ford broke campaign spending rules
Rob Ford broke spending rules during his run for mayor in 2010.
That's the finding of a forensic audit of Ford's campaign expenses released on Friday.
The probe lists dozens of "apparent contraventions" of the Municipal Elections Act.
Among them, the audit finds Ford overspent on his campaign by $40, 000. The auditor explains that the overage comes from un-recorded contributions & re-classifying costs for events that had been treated as fundraisers. Costs for fundraisers don't count towards campaign expenses.
At City Hall after the report's release, Doug Ford told reporters while he thinks t the auditor was fair, they disagree on the interpretation of rules. Rob Ford wasn't available for comment.
PROMO EVENT vs FUNDRAISER
The auditor used date, how funds were collected & location to determine whether an event was promotional or a fundraiser.
The auditor believes that events in Etobicoke where Rob Ford had been a long-time councillor were fundraisers, since he was already well known. Anything beyond Etobicoke was viewed as a promo event, since Ford " was required to promote awareness of his candidacy and his platform".
Doug Ford disagrees with that interpretation saying, "I'm sorry, people knew Rob in Scarborough." He points to a June 2010 event at Scarborough's Grand Baccus Convention Centre as 1 of 2 items that pushed his brother's campaign over-limit.
The other is the bill for an audio-visual team at Rob Ford's victory party.
THE VICTORY PARTY
Wexler Productions billed the campaign over $71, 000for their work, but Ford's campaign was only willing to pay $35, 000.
Ford told reporters that payout was in-line with the estimate Wexler had originally given him. "I'm not gonna get shafted by a vendor that tells me one thing and gives me an invoice for another", said Ford.
Wexler told the auditor the company had to eat the $36, 000 difference. Doug Ford pointed to the bill as a reason Rob's campaign went over, even though the auditor added it to expenses not subject to the limit.
The auditor also found Rob Ford broke the rules by borrowing close to $78, 000 from a family company. Candidates can only take loans from recognized institutions like banks. Ford's campaign repaid the loan with interest in April 2011, but the auditor found the terms of the deal were "generous" & that Ford benefited from special treatment.
The auditor also found Team Ford accepted 11 corporate cheques, totalling $6, 000. Corporate gifts are a no-no. Ford also racked up $5800 in campaign expenses before even signing his candidate papers.
Toronto's 3-person Compliance Audit Committee will consider the report February 25th. They'll decide whether to drop the matter or pursue legal action against the mayor. If they opt to push the issue forward, they will call in a special prosecutor who will determine what non-criminal charges Rob Ford should face. That process could take as long as a year.
Punishment ranges from fines to being kicked out of office. That worst case scenario has never played out in Ontario's history.
You can read the full report HERE
(With files from Dave Bradley)