A woman who was stopped by police while driving Rob Ford’s luxury SUV and charged with impaired driving says she and the mayor were “best buddies” during their time in rehab in together.

In an interview with the Toronto Sun, LeeAnne McRobb discussed her friendship with the embattled mayor and the arrest that brought the relationship to light.

McRobb told the newspaper Ford had special nicknames for her and that at one point she met the mayor’s friend Alexander (Sandro) Lisi. Lisi made headlines after he was charged with extortion and drug offences by Toronto police detectives who are investigating the mayor.

McRobb said Ford called her a “little monkey” and “country pumpkin,” as their friendship evolved at the GreeneStone rehab facility in Muskoka.

“He tends to call females ‘little birds,’ but he didn’t want to call me that. He called me a ‘little monkey’ because I’d be bouncing around and doing yoga and never (be) in a bad mood,” the 36-year-old woman said. “Our friendship grew fast. He said I was his best buddy in rehab.”

McRobb described Ford as a “sweet guy” who wanted to help her, and she said their relationship has been bittersweet because she has been hounded by media and she lost her job because of her ties to him.

The pair met at GreeneStone in early May when McRobb struck up a conversation with the mayor about fishing, she told the Sun.

Ford entered the facility to seek treatment for substance abuse while he took a two-month leave of absence from city hall. Ford returned to work June 30.

McRobb, who said she has been battling alcohol issues since her boyfriend died in 2004, was discharged from GreeneStone May 15 and charged with impaired driving five days later.

McRobb said Ford gave her permission to use his Escalade while he was still in rehab because she loaned her vehicle to a GreeneStone patient and it sustained front-end damage in a crash.

Ford recommended she take it to an autobody shop he trusts in Toronto.

She said Lisi gave her directions from the autobody shop to Ford’s house in Etobicoke, where she picked up the Escalade to use while her vehicle was in the shop.

“Sandro Lisi and all those people, I know them, I’ve met them to say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ But I have no affiliation with those people,” said McRobb, who is the mother of a young son.

She said Ford “was pissed” when he found out that she was charged with impaired driving and his luxury vehicle was in a Gravenhurst impound lot.

McRobb said she spoke to Ford as recently as Wednesday morning and she denied claims that she had an inappropriate relationship with him.

“I am not a home wrecker,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t even want to use that word, ever. That word is horrible and I don’t want to be referenced as that word ever because it’s not true. People say I was sexual with the mayor and others there, but it is not even remotely close to the truth. Hell no. Rob and I were close buds and that is it. Nothing more.”

She also denied providing alcohol or drugs to the mayor while he was at GreeneStone.

Since he was released from rehab, Ford has declined to answer reporters’ questions about his relationship with McRobb and his time at the facility.

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