Jun 11

Ford appeals campaign audit request, despite having nothing to hide

Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan:

Rob Ford has just filed an appeal with the Ontario Court of Justice, asking that “the decision of the Compliance Audit Committee granting an application for a compliance audit of the 2010 election campaign finances of Rob Ford be set aside” and, further, that “an Order be made rejecting the application for a compliance audit of the 2010 election campaign finances of Rob Ford.”

A couple of weeks ago, when asked if he planned to appeal any of the audit requests, Ford told the Sun: “I don’t think so… There is nothing to hide so let them audit all they want.”

via Rob Ford Appeals Audit Request, Asks for Stay of Audit Committee Decision – Torontoist.

This is in response to the several audit requests filed earlier this month. I’ve written in past posts that I don’t believe these audit requests will amount to much, even if Ford is found to have breached election law. I stand by that view — belief that Ford is being unfairly persecuted by a left-wing ‘other’ is kind of integral to his political success — but, still, this is a surprising development. There’s no way to spin this that doesn’t make Ford look like a giant hypocrite.

In an article by John Lorinc in the Globe, “veteran compliance auditor” Bernard Nayman speculates that this is the first strike in what will likely be a long war of attrition. Essentially, Ford’s lawyers can delay this thing for years.

Also worth reading: Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, who of the individuals who formally requested the audit, wrote a piece titled “Why I Sought an Audit of Rob Ford” for Spacing. Chaleff-Freudenthaler also deserves a ton of credit for getting quoted as saying “Rob Ford’s day of reckoning will come” in a national newspaper. That’s the kind of thing you tell your grandchildren about.

May 11

Campaign audit: What’s Ford thinking?

John Lorinc for the Globe & Mail:

Toronto council’s compliance audit committee today unanimously voted to order a full audit of Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign expenses in response to accusations by Toronto residents Max Reed and Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler that provincial elections laws were breached.

In their requests for a compliance audit, they alleged that Mr. Ford may have exceeded his spending limits and relied on unorthodox funding arrangements, which saw the Ford family’s holding company pay over $77,000 in campaign expenses.

via Full audit of Ford’s campaign expenses ordered – The Globe and Mail.

I previously indicated that this story wasn’t really doing much for me, but it’s been getting more interesting. Publicly, Ford and his press secretary Adrienne Batra have indicated that they’re happy to see an audit go forward. But Ford’s lawyer’s tact today was different.

The Toronto Star’s David Rider:

Tom Barlow, a lawyer representing Ford, argued strenuously against the need for such a probe, repeatedly noting that Ford has until September to file additional campaign information, and it will erase any concerns.

“The answers are in the second phase” of filing, Barlow told the panel. He later said Ford will consider going to the courts to try to get the panel’s ruling overturned.

via Audit ordered into Mayor Ford’s campaign financing – thestar.com.

That argument would seem to be the legal equivalent of telling your landlord that your rent cheque is in the mail.

It seems to me that Ford should simply submit to the compliance audit. If it’s found that his campaign violated the rules — and it seems plausible that they did — I don’t think he’d lose much face in admitting a mistake and accepting the penalty. It’s still very unlikely he’d get removed from office over this kind of thing.

So why the tough talk today and the spectre of a court challenge? Either the campaign is hiding something or Ford is doing that thing where he denies all wrongdoing until presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Fun coincidence of the day: at the same time Ford’s lawyer was talking about a court challenge over this issue, the City Clerk was apparently ceding to political pressure to not appeal an earlier judgment that called for a by-election in Ward 9. Set for July 25, the race will likely pit incumbent and Ford opponent Maria Augimeri against Rob Ford’s pal Gus Cusimano.

While losing Augimeri would be a blow to council’s left, it wouldn’t be a do-or-die situation. The balance of power at this point is firmly controlled by council’s middle, regardless of how things stand in Ward 9.

Still, I’d ask Ward 9 voters to consider that this race will likely be between a multi-decade veteran of council who has demonstrated an ability to fight for her Ward’s needs versus a candidate who has expressed a desire to always vote with the mayor.

Jan 11

Fighting gravy with gravy

Toronto Life’s John Michael McGrath crunches the numbers on campaign debt leftover from the fall election. Here’s where the losers stand:

Mayor Ford, on the other hand, is $800,000 in the hole. And while, yes, it’s funny that the candidate for fiscal restraint apparently exercised none in his own mayoral campaign, the big question I have is this: You spent that kind of cash and yet your first campaign website looked like this?