The city’s compliance audit committee has decided to take legal action against Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti for allegedly breaking election spending laws during his 2010 campaign.
The three-person committee made the decision at a meeting Monday after considering an audit, released last month, that found Mammoliti exceeded the $27,464 campaign spending limit by $12,065, or 44 per cent.
In doing so they rejected a request from Mammoliti’s lawyer Jack Siegel, who had asked for an eight-month adjournment in order to seek an outside review of the audit. Siegel told the committee Monday that “there is no suggestion of subterfuge” and any errors in his client’s campaign filings were honest mistakes.
“It’s Mr. Mammoliti’s position, and has been throughout, that he’s done everything possible to comply with the requirements of a very complicated piece of legislation,” Siegel told reporters after the meeting.
But in presenting his report to the committee, auditor Bruce Armstrong painted a picture of an extraordinarily sloppy campaign whose financial filings were riddled with errors. Armstrong said that a normally straightforward record-keeping process was complicated by Mammoliti’s decision in the summer of 2010 to abort a run for mayor and seek a councillor’s seat instead. A lack of in-house accounting expertise also did the councillor no favours.
According to Armstrong, bills for Mammoliti’s councillor bid were sometimes paid out of the bank account designated for his mayoral run, not all of his expenses were reported, and a concerted attempt to organize the campaign records wasn’t made until Mammoliti called in an expert shortly before the filing deadline, causing a “mad rush” to reconcile the books.
“Until the deadline period for filing financial statements, I maintain the campaign had no idea what the true revenues or expenses of the campaigns were,” Armstrong told the committee.
See also this Toronto Star editorial suggesting that this could be a problem for Mayor Ford's alliances, and a Torontoist article by Steve Kupferman pointing out that the mayor himself faces this problem.