London city hall: Integrity commissioner says ‘politically motivated’ complaints dominated his agenda in the past year

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The majority of complaints filed in the past year to city council’s integrity commissioner appeared “politically motivated,” the watchdog states in a just-released report.

The annual report from integrity commissioner Gregory Stewart shows the brief affair between Mayor Matt Brown and then-deputy mayor Maureen Cassidy was the only breach in council’s code of conduct since the Grand Bend lawyer took over the watchdog role in May 2016.

The relationship between Brown and Cassidy broke the code of conduct, Stewart said after his 2016 investigation. But the integrity commissioner decided not to launch a larger probe into their activities, saying at the time that it would be “an exercise in seeking out the salacious details of the situation.”

Both Brown and Cassidy were censured by their council but received no further punishment. They both remain on council. Brown is no longer married.

Stewart investigates complaints about the conduct of London’s municipal politicians, and offers advice for navigating the city’s code of conduct.

The integrity commissioner has received 14 complaints since his appointment in May 2016. Only two resulted in a review and investigation.

An annual report from Stewart shows the highlights of his work over the past year and four months:

  • 18 councillors asked for advice, usually about conflicts of interest
  • 14 complaints were filed, requesting an investigation
  • 12 complaints were dismissed
  • 2 were investigated
  • 1 violated council’s code of conduct

In addition to the affair, the other investigation launched by Stewart covered the conduct of a councillor at a committee meeting. But the integrity commissioner “concluded that this did not constitute a contravention of the code of conduct” after investigating, according to the annual report.

Stewart said the complaints that were dismissed — 12 out of 14 — appeared politically motivated or didn’t fall under his jurisdiction.

There are no other circumstances under investigation by the commissioner right now.

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