Rob Ford’s conflict of interest, it’s worse than you thought

Posted on September 1st, 2012 19 great comments. Room for one more!

I wouldn’t blame you if you knew little about the upcoming trial of our ignominious, embarrassing mayor, Rob Ford.

I follow him and his merry band of criminals and I must admit that even I didn’t know the full extent of the abuses of power and influence that are to be tried at the upcoming court date, but hopefully I can make sense of it all in this post and you’ll be able to see why this is such a serious issue (and why the man has to go).

The facts thus far…

Ford is very much the front man for the Rob Ford Football Foundation which, under his name and to his political benefit, funds a number of schools around Toronto. Here’s Rob himself to introduce it:

According to the Notice of Application by Clayton Ruby’s office — he’s the lawyer leading the charge against the Mayor — Ford used the City of Toronto logo on both the envelope and letter to solicit donations to his charity prior to the 2010 election. Just to make sure everyone knew it was Rob, he had it gold-embossed with yet another City of Toronto logo and “Rob Ford Etobicoke North Councillor” on it.

This can easily be seen as vote buying — you donate to Rob’s foundation, he gets you tax receipts and special favours when he gets into the Mayor’s seat. Even if that never happens (though with Ford, it most likely would), the chance of it happening is eliminated by having things like the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (in fact, that’s the sole reason for this law to exist in the first place!)

Maybe Robbie didn’t know that it could be perceived this way?

Not a fucking chance.

He had done something similar twice before (noted in the same Notice), and was slapped on the wrist for it by Janet Leiper, the Integrity Commissioner. There are also numerous previous examples that clearly demonstrate that Ford was sensitive, sometimes too much so, to conflicts of interest at City Hall. So claiming that he didn’t know would be an outright and easily provable lie.

But this is just the beginning of the story.

In mid-August of 2010, Ford had a formal complaint lodged against him on this issue which was investigated by the Integrity Commissioner. There are some out there, like Giorgio Mammoliti, the same Councillor, and Ford’s personal buddy on Council, who said he’ll openly break the law if things aren’t done his way, who suggest that the I.C. has it in for Ford, basically suggesting that because she’s doing her job, she’s engaging in some sort of personal vendetta.

My own meeting with the Integrity Commissioner suggests she’s one of the most balanced, fair, and carefully-treading individuals I’ve ever met; by far the most professional and unbiased lawyer the city could find. The video above demonstrates exactly the same demeanor I encountered.

But I guess neither Mammoliti nor Ford can possibly imagine that an Integrity Commissioner might be engaged in, oh, I don’t know, investigating breaches of integrity. Keep in mind, too, that she doesn’t do this of her own volition; investigations only ever begin when a citizen files a formal complaint, including an affidavit, under oath (it’s not easy and requires a lot of hoop jumping).

Maybe this is why, instead of speaking to allegations of impropriety, Rob Ford spent his time “explaining” how his program works, how the “Rob Ford Football Foundation” is not in any way about him but about the kids, how he’s not involved in the process at all except that the schools involved make requests directly through him by sending him invoices, he then sends the requisitions onto his foundation, and they send out cheques and cheritable receipts to donors, and so on. All perfectly above board!

Notice towards the end of the video where he holds up the letterhead (sent to Toronto schools), demonstrating that it doesn’t mention that he’s mayor — “you would have no idea that I was a politician … if you didn’t know, obviously, if you were in another city” (Council understandably laughs). The sample letter simply just shows his mug in the corner and “ROB FORD” in big, bold, banner type at the top. So, yeah, no connection to Ford at all.

Ford then admits that he used City letterhead during his campaign: “I was wrong! I took all that off!”

You may be asking why he’s babbling about having to repay money out of his own pocket in that video.

Well, that August 2010 investigation I mentioned earlier found that Ford had breached the City Council Code of Conduct (on numerous occassions), and that in order to avoid being held to account for it, he should repay the lobbyists who donated money to his foundation.

Had he simply given the money back, a mere $3,150 (pittance for a millionaire), he could’ve simply walked away from the affair and continued on his jolly way (a Code of Conduct violation isn’t as serious as something like the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act).

But he ignored what was then a mere recommendation to repay and later that month Council voted that he violated the Code of Conduct and ordered him, under a legally binding obligation, to pay back the lobbyists.

Oh, and Rob Ford voted on that, and an additional motion to reconsider.

If you still don’t get what’s wrong with this, consider why we wouldn’t allow criminals to sit as both their own jury and judge — that’s very clearly a conflict of interest, exactly like Rob Ford sitting in on a vote to dismiss a punishment against him.

But Ford did it, and this wouldn’t be the last time.

In the meantime, the Integrity Commissioner followed up with a litany of payment requests and reports to Council (six, to be precise), about Ford’s complete refusal to pay back the money.

Finally, in October, Ford claimed that he had written to the lobbyists and they said they didn’t want their money back. (Their politician is bought and paid for, after all)

The Integrity Commissioner replied that the Lobbyist Registrar (yet another office now involved), had contacted the lobbyists and told them that they were violating the Lobbyist Code of Conduct. The lobbyists wisely pulled back their offer to let Ford off the hook and demanded their money back.

Okay, let’s catch our breath here for a second and do a quick wrap-up (because it ain’t over yet):

  1. Ford used City of Toronto letterhead, plus his name and position all over envelopes and letters sent to lobbyists asking for donations to his football charity during the election, to which he admitted:
    He used his influence and office to solicit donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation
  2. He was warned multiple times prior to this incident about similar breaches, and had on numerous occassions recused himself from votes which might indicate a conflict of interest for him:
    He clearly knows about conflicts of interest and about recusal from votes
  3. The Rob Ford Football Foundation does not operate at arms length, requiring schools to send invoices and requests directly to Rob Ford:
    He is directly involved in the day-to-day operations of his foundation, not disconnected from it as he claims
  4. The Integrity Commissioner warned Ford that this was a big no-no (remember this wasn’t the first time either), and gave him an out (considering his wealth, it woulnd’t have been a huge burden). When Ford didn’t respond, Council voted that he must repay the money, by law — Ford voted against that motion, and then again to reconsider it:
    He knowingly broke the Municipal Conflict if Interest Act twice
  5. The Integrity Commissioner followed up many times to remind both Rob and Council that he had failed to follow up. Instead of doing as he was required to do, by law, he wrote lobbyists asking to be forgiven. The Integrity Commissioner replied to both the lobbyists and Ford that this would amount to further breaches:
    He tried to weasel out of his obligation and ignored the law

Well, you know, this isn’t enough for Ford. He isn’t satisfied with repeatedly flaunting being above the law or endangering the city’s citizens, he has to drive home his complete and utter lack of respect for his office, the rule of law, and even common decency.

Roughly one and a half years later, Ford’s buddy Mammoliti (who, aside from brimming with criminal tendencies himself, is also a spineless toady bent on really fucking up the city every way possible), tabled a motion to let Ford off the hook completely and just fuhgetaboudit!

I guess the Councillors who previously voted on this forgot what it was all about (or were tired of it), and decided unanimously to adopt the motion.

Oh, and Ford voted on this one too.

But not before another vote (on which Ford also voted), that would’ve extended the time he had to repay until October 15 of this year. Of course, kind of a moot point since the follow-up motion got Ford off completely, but I put it in for a total vote tally (I’m not including additional votes to extend speakers’ times and to end the debate — which Ford was also in on).

So at this point, over a historic journey of about two years…

Ford directly, knowingly, brazenly contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act no less than four times.

He believes it’s okay to influence City Hall, and especially the Mayor, through underhanded lobbying techniques via obvious sham organizations, and to do it all out in the broad daylight for everyone to see.

And then comes the deposition that Ford did for Clayton Ruby.

I’m going to cover this endless stream of bickering over whether or not Ford takes his office seriously, or whether or not he remembers a single damn thing, in the next post. If you get a moment, read it through (it’s about 132 pages) — I’m sure that now that you know the facts, you’ll find Fords answers as outrageous and insulting as I do.

And if you happen to have the day off this September 5th, perhaps I’ll see you down at the Provincial Courts, where if there is any rule of law and justice, they must surely prevail.

19 Comments on “ Rob Ford’s conflict of interest, it’s worse than you thought ”

  • Cyclo
    September 2nd, 2012 12:13 am

    Though judges apparently don’t like getting involved in politics it seems like he really and truly broke the law and though RF would like to believe he is above the law in this case I dearly hope they throw the book at him and remove him from office and bar him from running for 7 years. The man willingly and knowingly broke the law he should be punished.

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  • Warren
    September 2nd, 2012 12:42 pm

    Yah, if you don’t want judges to get involved in your mayorality, stop breaking the law, ya idjut.

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  • mandl
    September 2nd, 2012 2:33 pm

    Still mad he didn’t go to the parade eh?

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  • mandl
    September 2nd, 2012 2:42 pm

    I wonder how you feel about the ethics of former councillor Kyle Rae spending $12000 of taxpayers money on a farewell party for himself?? I’ll take 3200 of private funds for kids equipment over that fat fuck Rae spending MY taxpayer money on a party for himself. Your paper bashed the Sun for daring to suggest it was inappropiate.

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  • Patrick
    September 3rd, 2012 8:54 pm

    @Mandl — Rae used his office budget, hence broke no laws. That being said, I don’t support what he did (not sure what you’re referring to), and would happily support efforts to prevent it in the future including putting in laws that, once broken, would result in a Councillor’s removal. Ford broke existing law, so the situations are hardly the same, but removal is just as deserved — I guess you presume that because I don’t support Ford I’m some sort of “leftie” pinko who automatically supports everyone on “my side”. That’s childish, simplistic Ford-ish thinking.

  • poweredbythelaw
    September 3rd, 2012 7:25 am

    @Mandi – two wrongs don’t make a right. And no, I don’t want equipment for my kids if it’s illgotten, thanks.

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  • tabby
    September 3rd, 2012 7:26 am

    cease the embarrassment ,stop the insanity
    create some glory and pride: lose the fords

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  • Joe P
    September 3rd, 2012 7:17 pm

    Garbage biased journalism. Your anger is apparent in every paragraph. I’ve never read a piece so full of vitriol. Did Ford murder your cat or something? Why do you hate him so much? Absolute rubbish and unprofessional journalism. This belongs on a wordpress blog.

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  • Patrick
    September 3rd, 2012 9:02 pm

    @Joe P – facts are tough to bear, aren’t they? If you consider having an opinion based on solid research “unprofessional”, well golly gee, you got me. Plus, I don’t recall swearing an oath to impartiality. And if you want to know why Ford irks me so much, there’s plenty on this blog to explain myself (I won’t repeat it all here, but it goes well beyond personal dislike). For that matter, what manner of miracle did Ford perform to garner your admiration? His “commitment”? His keeping of the election promises? His impeccable grooming? Again, plenty of ammunition here to show that whatever it is, it’s mere fantasy (to put it politely). Go on…challenge me. Please.

  • SarahD
    September 3rd, 2012 9:02 pm

    @little Joe… I ‘hate’ to break it to u but writing for ur favorite tabloid paper The Sun is far below us.
    I guess that getting government docs = flat out bias in ur head.Guess Ford is paying u well enough foru to troll to this site!

    While all comments r welcome I’d like for you go home to The Toronto Sun until Ford gets fried– I mean tried.

    Till next time,

  • SarahD
    September 3rd, 2012 9:18 pm

    Patrick, one sentence:Mr. Mayor enjoyed watching his niece run around in her underwear! Oops– lingerie. My bad… Doh! ;-)

    <3 SarahD.

  • Joe P
    September 4th, 2012 7:59 am

    I dont presume anything about you Patrick, funny how your mind automatically goes that route though. He has my admiration for sticking it to the union goons who blocked me from throwing out my garbage during the last strike and making TTC essential, ensuring my daughter will never be stuck downtown like she was last wildcat strike, cutting councillors spending and cleaning house at TCHC. The guy has a PR problem but he has my vote for his policies not his personal life. You on the other hand stoop so low as to insult his “personal grooming”. That bother you so much??

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  • Patrick
    September 4th, 2012 11:20 am

    @Joe P – I never used the word “presume” (or anything like that), in my reply to you. How often do you misread things or just make them up in your mind? I suppose as a Ford supporter, that’d have to be fairly often (if you accepted the reality of the situation and paid attention, that could never happen). Regardless, let’s talk about the “union goons” that he “stuck it” to — I’m going to make an actual assumption and say that you believe Miller did no such thing, correct? In other words, the unions went on strike because they and Miller were such good buddies? This is, after all, the idiotic story coming out of the Ford camp that makes the fat man such a saint while his predecessor was so awful, despite the fact that it makes absolutely no sense. The fact that Ford was able to win concessions out of them so quickly and easily after Miller more or less failed suggests very strongly that it’s Ford who’s friendly with the union leadership. Did you ever stop to think about it that way?
    I’m sorry your daughter was stuck downtown during the last TTC strike — if you read more on this blog you’ll find I’m no big fan of theirs either. However, you seem not to be aware that “wildcat strike” means that they strike regardless of whatever laws or legislation are in place, so believing that because Ford made the TTC an essential service will prevent exactly the same thing from happening is very naive (your statement shows that there’s a history of exactly this sort of thing happening!). About cleaning house at TCHC (and TTC, for that matter — remember how he fired management to put his personal buddy Byford in?), all he’s done is put his friend into place and wasted vast amounts of money cancelling contracts and agreements without cause (unless you consider disagreeing with His Majesty a good cause). At least he’s saved you a few pennies a day by cancelling the VRT, but I did the math and with all the money he’s wasted on his other personal vendettas, he’s costing Toronto way more than he’s ever saved (again, there’s a TCL post about this which I’ll be happy to dig out for you if you’re not averse to facts and basic math).
    Finally, Ford doesn’t have a PR problem — HE’S BREAKING THE LAW! No amount of slick advertising should hold him above that. Torontonians shouldn’t be held under the threat of another election (and how much will that cost?!), so that he can get away with openly and brazenly breaking the law. Kyle Rae’s going-away party was so irksome to so many Ford supporters (not in any way illegal), but the fact that fatty repeatedly breaks the law and costs them way more than $12,000 at the end of the day doesn’t even register. Maybe because it requires people to put two and two together, and no one is spoon-feeding them the information. The only way I can account for this is that they buy all the lies and rhetoric that Ford’s camp keeps pushing out — your own response shows that you don’t go to great depths or pay much attention before regurgitating your spoon-fed pablum. In fact, I hear the same commentary, verbatim, coming from Ford messiahs like Jerry Agar. And the same insipid commentary is 99% personal opinion that wouldn’t dare dig more than a millimeter further because that might show it to be flimsy at best, or completely wrong otherwise.
    That goes for the “personal grooming” comment too…I asked you if you thought that worth supporting, and somehow, in your mind, that turned into me insulting him — what, exactly, did I say about his personal grooming? Nothing, only whatever your imagination cooked up based on how newspapers like The Sun told you to feel (otherwise, inject something original and fact-based, please). But I guess questioning anything that Ford does is a personal insult to the man, isn’t it? At the end of the day, even if I had insulted him, it wouldn’t bother me because I didn’t make anything up, it bothers me that you’re willing to let a criminal off the hook. Proven facts are not insulting, otherwise they’re called “slander” and “libel” and laws protect people from that sort of thing. But again, they require some sort of evidence to the contrary, and so far all I’ve read from you is regurgitation of how Ford “cleaned house” when, in reality, and even if money is the only thing that concerns you, he’s failed miserably.
    He lies, he costs Toronto taxpayers money (not saves it), he breaks the law and endangers lives, he engages in nepotism, secrecy, and backroom dealing (the exact opposite of what he promised), and he does it all with bravado and the backing of his buddies in media and high places, and high-priced lawyers. There is literally no standard by which he’s good for Toronto, and even the few examples you mentioned are easily shown to be detrimental (unless you only read headlines and don’t bother to dig beneath the surface). Go beyond the left-right rhetoric and stop believing everything you’re told, learn to weigh benefits against cost, and for heaven’s sake stop believing that an overweight millionaire with mob connections and criminal tendencies represents the interests of the common man — he doesn’t!

  • SarahD
    September 4th, 2012 11:23 am

    @ everyone: Downtown is where everybody loves to hate. –(but deep down they love exploiting us).

    U use ur selfishness and single-minded thinking to keep ur eyes closed from people’s rights in this society.

    People strike when they are displeased. It sucks but so do you! Don’t hate, appreciate.

    Without the trash collectors Toronto would smell like nyc! (My fam lives there and trust me we don’t want that).

    Unless people would do the work of others I say just be grateful.

    <3 SarahD.

    rs toro

  • mandl
    September 4th, 2012 12:06 pm

    You are so ANGRY Patrick! I mean just look at that rant you went on! I bet you didn’t pause once didn’t you? Would love to stay and argue but I got work to do. I’ll be back though once Ford is cleared to rub it in your face a bit :-)

    @Sarah Go occupy a tent somewhere far away will you please.

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  • Patrick
    September 4th, 2012 5:05 pm

    @mandl Yeah, I’m absolutely seething with rage. I only pause to wring the neck of a kitten and punch holes in walls. Whether or not Ford is cleared, though, please do drop by again — there’s plenty of Fordishness left out there for me to rant about.

  • ron
    September 8th, 2012 3:25 pm

    Ford will not be cleared , there is adequate evidence to prove a conflict of interest and the penalty is quite harsh , but needed to discourage this kind of behavior in public office.

    Mayors seat vacated ( he is fired !).
    Banned from running for public office for 7 years.
    Calling this political as Robs Brother Dough likes to push regularly and blaming the Liberals or so called left wingers is ridiculous.
    Had Rob followed the rules no one could have gotten to him, end of story.

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  • SarahD
    October 16th, 2012 1:00 am

    I’m still waiting and waiting for SOMETHING to change in our municipal politics!
    As of now the Fords still behave like emperors of MY BELOVED CITY turning it into a suburban playground for everyone to piss on and call names like little children. Most of us were raised with values, respect for one another, and concern for our fellow man. The Ford Family were born criminals and expect us to beg for what is otherwise deservedly ours.

    Myself, I built my life on giving my heart in the spirit of ‘do unto others the way you’d like
    to have done unto oneself’.

    Rob’s so-called CHARITY is a front for him to syphon money around for his personal reasons.

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  • SarahD
    October 16th, 2012 1:10 am

    Con’t– Toronto is a home forall, even those who can’t see beyond the TV screen. It’s where I became an actress, university student, philanthropist, helper for all, and a young woman living with debilitating MS.

    I understand kind people; I cannot understand hatred.

    It’s better to be kind.

    ~ SarahD.

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