A pair of concerned Toronto residents is asking the city to audit the books of Rob Ford’s election campaign, alleging that the mayor spent almost $70,000 more than the $1.305-million expense limit established by municipal election rules. In a new request for a compliance audit to be filed today in the city clerk’s office, Max Reed and Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler picked up the ball the Globe and Mail got rolling early last month, accusing the Ford campaign of breaking election law on multiple fronts—including by borrowing money, accepting corporate donations and letting the Ford family company pay for campaign expenses.
According to today’s Globe:
It is the second such request for an audit of Mr. Ford’s election spending after a Globe and Mail investigation raised questions about cash advances from the Ford family firm, Deco Labels, early in the campaign. The first request, submitted last month by Ted Ho, will be reviewed by council’s compliance audit committee on Friday morning.
The newest request claims the Ford campaign chalked up $58,803.04 in expenses related to direct mail and telephone canvassing through the campaign. It also cites documents from the filings that suggest the campaign paid another $43,910 in fundraising commissions that were excluded from the expense limits.
If these expenditures had been included with $1.29-million in other campaign expenses, the spending on Mr. Ford’s mayoral run would have exceeded the limit.
While the claims have yet to be verified by an independent auditor, the allegations against Ford have now moved from “possibly serious” to “serious for news junkies.” History dictates that the next steps in the process are, of course, “legally serious” and “the ex-mayor says history will vindicate him.”
If Reed and Chaleff-Freudenthaler’s claims are correct, the punishment for these offences could go as far as removing the mayor from office. That almost certainly won’t happen—even if he’s found guilty, fines are a much more likely alternative—but if it did we’re pretty sure a certain city tabloid would call it a left-wing coup on its front page. That said, with Ford increasingly worried about council’s “mushy middle,” this is the kind of thing that could make the crushing votes of his early months in office a rarity in the future.