Toronto Mayor Rob Ford left city hall early on Friday, and, whether that was intentional or not, it turned out to be a fairly fortuitous absence.
A damning audit into the controversial mayor’s 2010 election spending was released to the public just a shy moment before the end of the day, well after Ford had left for the weekend.
CTV News reports that the report by Froese Forensics found that Ford broke the law and exceeded the allowable campaign spending limit by $40,168 during his successful bid to be mayor.
The report will be submitted to the city’s Compliance Audit Committee, which will decide whether to file non-criminal charges against Ford.It is possible, but high unlikely, that Ford could be removed from office as a result. A more likely penalty would be a fine. And remember, that is only if charges are brought forward and he is found guilty.
Consider the not-so-sexy sequel to Ford’s recently concluded conflict of interest court battle.
[ Related: Mayor Ford faces release of campaign audit ]
In its conclusion on Ford’s excessive spending, the audit reads, “Contributing factors to this excess included unrecorded expenses resulting from contributions in kind and the re-allocation of the costs of certain events previously treated as fundraising.”
The audit further took umbrage with money lent to the campaign by Ford's family business, and an "apparent contravention" of election finance laws.
Other findings included:
- 11 cheques totally $6,000 were accepted from corporations during the campaign
- untraceable cash contributions of more than $25 were accepted in several instances
- sequentially numbered money orders totally $4,400 were submitted as separate donations
- a charter bus was charged to the campaign before Ford had launched his campaign.
These are just a few of a litany of breaches outlined in the report.
The audit stems from a complaint into Ford's spending during the 2010 mayoral campaign.
The Toronto Sun reports that two residents allege that Ford wrongly borrowed money for his family's company to pay for his campaign expenses, resulting in campaign overspending and the wrongful acceptance of corporate contributions.
[ Related: Rob Ford already campaigning for next election ]
What is interesting is how nonplussed the public seems to be about the affair, compared to more recent controversies. It is like the city is exhausted from the travails of our dear mayor.
That the situation is being taken so lightly shouldn't be surprising. Toronto has lived in a world of revolving scandals for the past two years.
There have been visceral moments, like Ford being accused of giving the finger to a mother and her child, and infuriating ones, like when two buses were pulled from service to shuttle Ford's football team home from a game.
There have also been court battles, the conflict of interest case that nearly resulted in Ford's ouster the highest-profile of those.
This campaign finance spending audit might not even break onto the top 10 list of Ford controversies.
That says a lot about a lot.