Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has pay docked for three months over $80,000 in gifts from lobbyists
July 9, 2014
Toronto city council voted to dock Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s pay for three months after an investigation found he had accepted $80,000 in “gifts” from lobbyists who attended a fundraising dinner.
Council voted 37-2 in favour of the sanction that will cost the councillor $26,000, and also agreed to hire outside legal counsel to investigate possible criminality over the fundraiser.
In a July 3 report, integrity commissioner Janet Leiper ruled the payment violated the city’s code of conduct and asked council to dock Mr. Mammoliti’s pay for three months, the maximum allowed. Her report stems from a fundraising dinner organized by Mr. Mammoliti’s son and office staff, held in May 2013 in Woodbridge, in which guests such as high-profile lobbyists and several firms that do business with the city paid $5,000 per table to an event company.
On Wednesday Ms. Leiper displayed two separate cheques on screen at city council, addressed to Mr. Mammoliti from that same company, for $40,000 each. The memo line in each read “gift.”
But Mr. Mammoliti called the allegations “frivolous” and said he would take the matter to court, where it would be determined if any wrongdoing took place.
“I’m confident that we did nothing wrong. My family did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong either with respect to this,” he said. “What the question should be here is should any complainant in the future that comes forward and lodges a complaint to the integrity commissioner, should they automatically release private information to the public and try to destroy a politician?”
Councillor Joe Mihevc, who put forth the motion, said council acted “bravely” in imposing a sanction of this nature for the first time.
“That’s sending out a very important signal … that those acts where we break the code of conduct will not be tolerated,” he said.
Mr. Mihevc said Mr. Mammoliti’s penalty isn’t strictly monetary, as he will have to face the public’s condemnation. “It’s a way of us as council saying to Councillor Mammoliti that we are distancing ourselves from you in the strongest possible terms.”
Mr. Mammoliti wouldn’t say whether he will keep the money and questioned the legality of Ms. Leiper’s report.
Ms. Leiper defended her report, saying she gained access to the information about the fundraiser through the City of Toronto Act and Public Inquiries Act.
Mr. Mammoliti said he was in the hospital when the invitations were sent out and that it was to celebrate his renewed health.
“Ask yourselves about the politics involved in this. They will stoop to no level. They will go after people who are almost dead in their deathbeds to prove their point,” he said. “I’ll ask the courts whether or not the integrity commissioner has the right to go into private emails without warrants. I will go into the court and ask them whether the City of Toronto has the right to share private emails without warrants or without even a suggestion that they’re doing it.”