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Mayor’s audit woes deepen

Mayor Linda Jackson’s campaign finances could be subjected to the intense scrutiny of a second compliance audit.

Having convinced Ontario Justice Lucia Favret to order an audit into an earlier version of Jackson’s 2006 campaign books, Quintino Mastroguiseppe and Gino Ruffolo appear set to ask council for another audit, this time into her completed financial statements.

Jackson had until Feb. 29 to file her final campaign finances with the city under the Municipal Elections Act.

“We’ve now had the opportunity to review the latest filing and it seems to raise a large number of very disturbing issues,” Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for Mastroguiseppe and Ruffolo, said in a statement released Tuesday.

These issues, Gillespie said, include discrepancies among Jackson’s previous financial filings and her final one, including an increase in campaign office costs and a reduction in advertising spending.

Gillespie said he’s puzzled by the apparent omission of $7,000 in campaign donations from Jackson’s Feb. 29 filing.

“You cannot just attempt to revise history as if you never received money in the first place, but that’s exactly what some people are likely to say the mayor seems to be trying to do,” he said. “This mayor’s campaign finances appear, at least to some observers, to have become a complete nightmare.

“To (my clients) and perhaps many others, the legal and moral authority for this mayor to continue to govern, especially following such a close election, is now clearly in question,” Gillespie said.

Alleging Jackson had contravened the elections act more than 20 times, Mastroguiseppe and Ruffolo originally asked council for an audit into campaign financial statements filed by Jackson in April.

At its May 22 meeting, council decided it would not decide on the audit request until after Feb. 29, when Jackson’s final statements would be filed. It was after the vote to delay that Mastroguiseppe and Ruffolo filed their appeal.

That appeal was successful and an audit was ordered into the mayor’s April filing.

“Linda’s got nothing to hide, so we haven’t been concerned about there being an audit,” Jackson attorney Andrew Jeanrie said recently. “In fact, we always expected there would be an audit, but ordered by council at the appropriate time.”

During the appeal, both Jeanrie and city lawyer George Rust-D’Eye had argued the audit application was premature, and therefore invalid.

“The city’s position simply is that … the application was incorrectly brought,” said Rust-D’Eye, arguing the elections act states the audit request must come within 90 days after the final filing date.

Vaughan Today
Online: March 6, 2008 [link]