Ford won't face legal action over campaign expenses
Paul Johnston and Chris Kitching , cp24.com
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 5:41AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 25, 2013 8:43PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will not face legal action for allegedly exceeding his 2010 municipal election campaign spending limit, a three-person committee decided Monday.
“It’s a great day for democracy,” Ford said at a press conference late Monday afternoon. “I am ready to move forward and continue to make this the best city in the world.”
The city’s compliance audit committee was examining a forensic audit that discovered “apparent contraventions” of the Municipal Elections Act by Ford.
According to the third-party audit, Ford exceeded the campaign spending limit by $40,168, improperly borrowed about $77,000 from his family business, and accepted donations above the allowable limit.
In a statement full of thanks and appreciation, Ford recognized a number of people for their support, including lawyer Tom Barlow, campaign financial officer Stephen Chan and his backers across the city.
“To those who donated to my campaign, your rebates will be in the mail soon,” he said.
Ford also lauded special praise on his “campaign manager, brother and best friend,” Coun. Doug Ford.
“I couldn’t have done it without you,” he said. “You never let me down.”
In his final remarks Monday, Ford’s lawyer Tom Barlow said that while mistakes had been made, there was a good-faith attempt made by his client to follow the rules.
“The perfect should not be permitted to be the enemy of the good,” he said.
Barlow said that all campaign contributions had been recorded, and that the issue of irregularities was in part due to the classification of events Ford had attended as a guest rather than campaign events.
Barlow also argued that the idea that Ford got an advantage over other candidates was inaccurate, as the mayor’s campaign did not begin until two months after some of the other candidates in the race.
The committee had been debating whether to pursue non-criminal charges under the Municipal Elections Act.
Politicians who are found guilty usually face a fine as punishment, but could also be removed from office or banned from running in the next election, although those penalties are rare.
Ford is the second city council member to appear before the compliance audit committee in February.
Earlier this month, the committee recommended legal proceedings against city Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti after an independent audit found he didn’t follow campaign rules during the 2010 municipal election.
Mammoliti overspent by $12,000, failed to report campaign expenses incurred on his personal credit card, and improperly reported other expenses, according to the audit.
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