Ford must repay disputed donations, council says
Published Wednesday, August 25, 2010 8:48PM EDT
City council has accepted a recommendation that leading mayoral candidate Coun. Rob Ford be ordered to repay thousands of dollars that had been donated to his football charity.
It is the first time it has imposed a sanction on Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) for violating the Code of Conduct.
Ford was unrepentant outside city hall on Wednesday evening.
"It's only the kids that are hurting," he told CTV News.
On Wednesday morning, council approved a recommendation by Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper, who said that he had violated the Code of Conduct.
"Councillor Rob Ford used the City of Toronto logo, his status as a city councillor and City of Toronto resources to solicit funds for a private football foundation he created in his name,” she wrote.
"Donors to the councillor’s foundation included lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and a corporation which does business with the city."
The investigation began in May, after Ford had been twice warned informally not to use city resources to gather donations for his charity.
Ford said companies such as Woodbine Entertainment Group and Co-op Cabs donated to his campaign, "and they said, 'Since they do work for the city, you shouldn't have accepted the money.'
"I said, 'Okay, let's have a debate about it,''' he said.
Instead, council voted 26 to 10 to accept Leiper's recommendations, Ford said.
Ford had sent out a letter dated March 19 requesting donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation.
The back of the letter contained a gold seal, the City of Toronto logo and bearing the stamp "Rob Ford Etobicoke North Councillor."
Leiper wanted Ford to repay a total of $2,750 to lobbyists who donated to his foundation and another $400 to a corporation.
"In his letter of response to the complaint, Councillor Ford wrote, 'I do not understand why it would be inappropriate to solicit funds for an arm's-length charitable cause using my regular employment letterhead,'" Leiper quoted him as saying.
Ford had said there was "no basis in policy or law" to stop him from fundraising this way. However, Leiper said she had advised him in December 2009 and in February 2010 that he shouldn't fundraise in this way.
Despite Ford's troubles with the integrity commissioner and other controversies, the most recent poll has him in the lead.
"People trust me. People know the gravy train's going to come to an end," Ford said, referring to what he has called the wasteful spending at city hall.
Coun. Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) in city council chambers on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010.