Now the former mayor is target of audit request
The headache that is the bitter 2006 municipal election flared up again this week for former mayor Michael DiBiase.
Vaughan resident Raymond Plouffe asked council Tuesday to appoint an auditor to look into DiBiase’s completed campaign financial statements filed with the city Feb. 29, the filing deadline under the Municipal Elections Act.
“It appears clear that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there have been numerous contraventions of the act … totalling at least $74,675,” Plouffe said in his affidavit given to committee.
This request comes amid a flurry of audit action that has Councillor Bernie DiVona fighting to clear his name in court, and Mayor Linda Jackson facing a court-ordered audit with the prospect of a second one looming.
Plouffe claims DiBiase accepted several donations from closely associated businesses that total more than the allowed $750 per individual or company.
Plouffe is listed on the website for the Vaughan Conservative riding association as a director. Mario Campese, husband of current mayor Jackson who unseated DiBiase in the 2006 election, is first vice-president of the association.
Richard Lorello and Robert Zuccarini, who are pressing for an audit of councillor Bernie DiVona’s election finances, are respectively a candidate and a director of the association.
After learning of Tuesday’s audit request, DiBiase retained Eric Gillespie as counsel. Gillespie, who was recently successful in obtaining a court-ordered audit of Jackson’s 2006 campaign finances, will now endeavour to avoid a similar audit of DiBiase.
“I don’t think the arguments are similar,” he said Wednesday. “As an example, there are a number of allegations of associated corporations in both the Linda Jackson and Michael DiBiase cases.
“Mr. DiBiase is saying, ‘OK, I’ve looked carefully … and I believe there is reasonable evidence that indicates to the world that those companies aren’t associated.’ ”
Plouffe’s audit request points to an apparent and unexplained decrease in office expenses from a previous campaign finance filing to the completed one as another potential contravention of the elections act.
He is also alleging more than 100 donors — including Pizzaville, Al Palladini’s Pine Tree Ford Lincoln, Greenpark Group and Ganz — were not legally valid corporations under the act.
In his affidavit, Plouffe cites a 2005 court decision that ordered an audit into then-Hamilton mayor Larry Di Ianni’s 2003 campaign finances. Gillespie was the successful lawyer in that case.
Council has 30 days from receiving a request under the elections act to decide whether to grant an audit.
Plouffe could not be reached for comment by press time.
Vaughan Today Online: March 27, 2008 [link]