Long-serving York West Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti could be facing prosecution over allegations he overspent his 2010 councillor campaign budget by 44 per cent.
On Monday, Toronto’s three-member Compliance Audit Committee voted unanimously to hand those allegations to a prosecutor, who will decide whether to bring Mammoliti to court. If convicted of violating the Municipal Elections Act, Mammoliti could face fines, removal from office or even prison.
Mammoliti’s campaign was found to have spent more than $12,000 over his campaign spending limit of $27,464 in his bid to retake his seat in Ward 7 (York West). Mammoliti’s campaign finance was complicated by the fact that he had initially registered to run as mayor and had begun a campaign.
In the summer of 2010, when it became clear he would not be able to prevail, Mammoliti dropped out of the mayor’s race and began a council race.
The lead auditor Bruce Armstrong said the changeover was one factor that may have led to the campaign’s numerous accounting problems, and unanswered questions. In addition, he said the campaign suffered for the lack of having a full-time internal chief financial officer, instead relying on the campaign’s auditor for advice.
“I suspect the auditor was presented with a shoe box full of receipts and a tight time limit as he pulled together the financial statements,” said Armstrong. “A lot of this was probably done in a mad rush approaching the filing deadlines.”
Mammoliti’s lawyer Jack Seigal tried to convince the committee to put the hearing off, in order that Mammoliti’s campaign could have more time to fulsomely respond to the findings in Armstrong’s report.
“The situation my client Mr. Mammoliti finds himself in is difficult if not impossible,” he said. “Mr. Mammoliti is entitled to make a full answer in defense... on the question of whether there ought to be prosecution.”
The three-person committee rejected the request for an adjournment, and finally voted unanimously to proceed with prosecution.
The usually loquacious Mammoliti wouldn’t speak with reporters. Just two weeks earlier, he had alleged there was a wide-spread conspiracy against himself, and he had stepped away from Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee in order to investigate the matter. He said that it, among other things, involved lawyers working pro-bono.
He wouldn’t say whether the compliance audit was an element of that conspiracy.
David DePoe, the retired teacher who brought forward the complaint, maintained his motivation in doing so was only because he had received a tip that Mammoliti was overspending, and he disliked politicians who didn’t abide by the rules.
“I don’t like people who get themselves an unfair advantage in terms of running for office,” he said. “We should be able to trust people who are in office to obey the rules and run a fair campaign.”
DePoe admitted, however, he sought help from a group of activists calling themselves Fair Elections Toronto who have launched campaign finance audit requests against several right-of-centre municipal politicians.
His lawyer, Paul-Erik Veel, has been working pro-bono on this case and also on an audit request on behalf of former library board member Adam Chalef-Freudenthaler of former city councillor Peter Li Preti.