Ford says he'll challenge integrity czar's ruling
Published Monday, August 23, 2010 7:08PM EDT
Coun. Rob Ford says he will be challenging an integrity commissioner report that accuses him of misusing the city's symbols to raise money for his personal football charity.
"I'm going to get on the floor of council and ask why the integrity commissioner doesn't investigate the $12,000 retirement party for Kyle Rae or the $6,000 French lessons for Adam Giambrone," he told CTV News on Monday.
"Or better yet, why not that Tuggs deal, that 20-year lease behind closed doors. Why doesn't she investigate that?" Ford asked of Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper.
Rae, the veteran councillor for Ward 27 (Toronto Centre-Rosedale), spent $12,000 from his office budget on a retirement party. Giambrone, who won't be running for re-election, used some of his office budget for French lessons.
Ford had been blasted by some of his opponents for making reckless claims of corruption in his attacks on a sole-sourced contract to Tuggs Inc., the company that is a long-time operator of the Boardwalk Pub near Ashbridge's Bay.
Last Friday, the city released its agenda for meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Inside that document was a report for council from Leiper.
"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."
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 wants Ford to repay a total of $3,150 to lobbyists who donated to his foundation and another $400 to a corporation.
"Why are they going after me when I'm helping out kids?" Ford said Monday.
He invited people to call Leiper's office -- 416.397.7770 -- and ask her if she's out to get him.
"Obviously, all these complaints we bring forward to her … she picks and chooses which ones she wants to investigate. With me, whatever complaint is brought to her, she investigates," Ford said.
He said she's called him 20 times and had four or five meetings.
Leiper couldn't be reached for comment on Monday, either by telephone or email.
In the report, she said Ford was given the opportunity to reply in writing.
"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.
"At no time after receiving either piece of advice did Councillor Ford say to either complainant through me that he intended to ignore the advice provided and that he would continue with his practices," Leiper said.
If council does impose sanctions on Ford, it will be the first time it has done so. A few councillors say Ford has stepped out of line.
"Rob's indicated he really doesn't care what the rules are," said Coun. Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore). "I'm sure he's going to continue doing whatever it is that he does."
Coun. Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) said: "The fact that he's paid for the letterhead is irrelevant. He's still an office-holder, and the Code of Conduct applies to all of us equally."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness