Toronto Mayor Rob Ford not the only one who needs to ‘pay by the rules’

Matthew Coutts
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, seen in a file photo from late last year, has been a Toronto-area councillor for more than a decade.

Here is a quick reminder that it is not just Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who faces complaints and accusations of impropriety, even as the embattled mayor stares down charges stemming from a damning campaign spending audit.

Frequent watchers of Toronto City Hall likely know that Ford was found to have exceeded campaign spending during his 2010 campaign by more than $40,000 and could face charges, even an unlikely ruling that he be removed from office.

What some might not recall is that he is not the first member of city council to face such charges. Several councillors have already had overspending complaints against them rejected, and another councillor has dismissed his unfavourable audit as a matter of opinion.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti will learn on Monday whether he will face charges after a forensic audit found that he exceeded his 2010 campaign spending limit by some $12,000. Considering the limit one can spend on a run for city council is $27,464.65, that is a fairly sizable overshare.

[ Related: Ford says committee must decide how to handle audit ]

Mammoliti has made headlines recently by claiming he has proof there is a conspiracy targeting Ford and his allies, while cryptically not revealing any of the details of his investigation. He says his office phone was tapped, suggesting the same people out to get Ford were targeting him.

The Globe and Mail reports that David DePoe, the retired teacher whose complaint launched Mammoliti’s campaign audit, says he received an anonymous phone call urging him to look into the spending.

DePoe told the Globe:

I spent a whole day making notes and looking at things and photocopying all kinds of stuff. And I just did some quick math and I just thought, ‘Geez, this is like way overspent.’

Mammoliti briefly ran for mayor in 2010, before dropping out and running for re-election as a councillor. The change is believed to have caused some accounting issues. Mammoliti has also called the failed audit a difference of opinion between accountants.

In fairness to Mammoliti, math is hard and running political campaigns involves some very confounding paperwork.

On Friday, an audit into Ford’s 2010 mayoral campaign found that he had overspent by $40,168 due to “unrecorded expenses resulting from contributions in kind and the re-allocation of the costs of certain events previously treated as fundraising.”

[ Related: Mayor Ford exceeded campaign spending limit by $40,168: audit ]

A decision on whether Ford will face charges over the audit results has not been made. It is possible, but high unlikely, that Ford could be removed from office as a result. A more likely penalty would be a fine.

Campaign spending complaints were also filed against Couns. Doug Ford, Michael Thompson and James Pasternak, all of whom are Ford supporters. Centrist Coun. Ana Bailão and some unsuccessful candidates faced similar spending compaints. Those requests have all been dismissed by the Compliance Audit Committee.

Coun. Maria Augimeri, who is not a Ford supporter, also faced a spending complaint following the 2010 municipal election after beating her Ford-backed rival by a handful of votes. The Toronto Star reports the election also broke into a court battle surrounding voter legitimacy, which nearly had the vote invalidated. All of those issues have been cleared and dismissed.

Call it a conspiracy, or call it due diligence. But requests to audit campaign spending are fairly common. What is surprising is that they don’t happen more often.

Everyone who runs for elected office needs to pay by the rules.