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City of Toronto spent $500,000 auditing campaign expenses, including Rob Ford's

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (centre) speaks to the press at Toronto City Hall after discussing ways to pay for a proposed subway extension to Scarborough. Also in attendance is (left) Vincent Crisanti, City Councillor - Ward 1 and (right) Norm Kelly, City Councillor - Ward 40. July 15, 2013

Philip Cheung/The Globe and Mail

Audits on the campaign spending of Mayor Rob Ford and six candidates from the 2010 election cost the City of Toronto nearly half a million dollars, according to an update from the city clerk's office.

Of the $491,129.97 spent on the audits, the investigation of Mr. Ford's campaign cost the most: topping out at $181,469.44. The second priciest audit was Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti's, at $134,308.97.

These audits found Mr. Ford and Mr. Mammoliti had overspent by less than $55,000 combined.

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The other audits ranged in cost from just under $20,000 to about $60,000. The audits for Mr. Ford and Mr. Mammoliti cost more due to the complexity of their campaigns, according to city staff.

"Bigger campaigns require more time to complete the audit," explained Jackie DeSouza, director of strategic communications for the city.

The audits were conducted in response to citizen complaints. Toronto residents Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Max Reed launched their complaint against Mr. Ford after The Globe and Mail reported the mayor had used a family holding company to finance election expenses.

The query into Mr. Mammoliti's campaign was spurred by retired Toronto teacher David DePoe, who had spoken out against Mr. Ford's spending. Mr. DePoe made the request about Mr. Mammoliti after being tipped off by an anonymous phone call.

The audits of their campaigns revealed last year that they had both overspent. However, while the compliance audit committee voted not to pursue legal charges against Mr. Ford, it did proceed with charges against Mr. Mammoliti, the costs of which were not included in the report.

Mr. Ford's campaign overspent by more than $40,000, which amounted to about 3 per cent of the allowed budget for a mayoral campaign, while the auditors found Mr. Mammoliti's campaign overspent by more than 40 per cent – just over $12,000.

The audit on Mr. Ford's campaign also found it had violated the Municipal Elections Act, including obtaining "generous credit terms" from the Fords' family business, but earlier this year the committee deemed the breaches technical and honest mistakes.

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The audit of Mr. Mammoliti's campaign revealed similar breaches of the Municipal Elections Act, but the committee pursued charges against him, the costs of which are still yet to be tallied.

The others who were audited include: Gus Cusimano, Justin Di Ciano, Abdi Hashised, Peter Li Preti and Peter Youngren. The total cost of the audit for Mr. Li Preti's campaign was not included in the report as the auditor will be presenting those findings – along with the updated cost report – to the compliance audit committee at its July 30 meeting and more costs will likely accrue from that appearance, Ms. DeSouza said.

The costs to the city will be covered by the election reserve fund, according to Ms. De Souza. The reserve is funded each year through the city's annual budget and helps cover all election-related costs, including audits.

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