Giorgio Mammoliti could be docked 90 days’ pay for accepting $80,000 in improper donations
The city’s integrity commissioner has released a new report on Ward 7 councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, and there are so many incredible things about it that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with this: because Mammoliti improperly accepted $80,000 in profits from a fundraising dinner attended by lobbyists, the integrity commissioner is recommending that he suffer the maximum possible penalty, which is the loss of three months’ salary.
The integrity commissioner’s investigation stems from a complaint by Brian Iler, a Toronto lawyer who filed a grievance after seeing a 2013 CBC News report about a $500-a-table fundraiser held on Mammoliti’s behalf at Royalton Banquet Hall in Woodbridge. The attendees included lobbyists and representatives of companies that do business with the city, and Mammoliti’s staff members helped organize the event during work hours. Mammoliti has claimed that the $80,000 in proceeds, paid to him after the fact by an event company, weren’t campaign donations. The councillor may have needed the money: he’s reportedly deep in debt, partly because of legal fees related to audits of his campaign expenses. The integrity commissioner’s report says Mammoliti claims not to remember many details about the planning of the fundraiser because of his brain surgery, which, if nothing else, is a much more creative excuse than the standard “I do not recall.”
The integrity commissioner’s report will go before city council next week, and councillors will have the opportunity to decide whether to impose the recommended penalty: withholding 90 days’ worth of Mammoliti’s pay, or just over $26,000. The integrity commissioner could have asked council to require Mammoliti to repay the $80,000, but an order like that probably wouldn’t have stood up in court. A conflict-of-interest verdict against Rob Ford was overturned in 2013 after a divisional court decided that a similar order was beyond council’s legal authority. And so Mammoliti will likely end up with a net profit of $54,000 or so—though that hasn’t stopped him from suing the integrity commissioner.
To put that $80,000 in perspective, the maximum allowable gift under city council’s code of conduct is normally just $500, and then only if the money didn’t come from a lobbyist. Those limits exist for a reason. City councillors wield immense power over things like development applications and work contracts, and so if they were allowed to accept absolutely any amount of money from absolutely anyone there would be no way of knowing whether or not the entire municipal power structure was running on graft. For Mammoliti to accept $80,000, collected on his behalf from a roomful of lobbyists and business executives, does more than call his integrity into question; it raises the possibility that he actually has none.