Patrick Brown repeatedly lies about cancelled investigations on Jerry Agar radio show
Patrick Brown appeared on iHeartRadio’s Jerry Agar Show last week, addressing his decision in August to cancel the independent forensic investigation into the failed Brampton University project, repeatedly fabricating information that was incorrect during the interview.
Agar told listeners the cancelled investigation by a third-party auditor (Froese Forensic Partners, which describes itself as a “financial investigative firm”) indicated consulting contracts for the Brampton University project were given to “people connected to Patrick Brown and people connected to one other councillor (Rowena Santos).”
Brown replied: “We had Deloitte look into this. We had Deloitte look into this. We spent $500,000. Deloitte reported there was no wrongdoing.”
His claim is blatantly false.
Released September of 2021, the Deloitte report makes no mention of the Brampton University project. Its authors did not conduct any interviews or consider the matter when they did their work last year, looking into other allegations of wrongdoing inside City Hall.
Brown then told Agar the City’s “Integrity Commissioner looked into it and said there was no wrongdoing.”
Again, his claim is blatantly false.
When Brown brought forward the motion to cancel the ongoing forensic investigations on August 26 he also called upon the City’s integrity commissioner to review the allegations instead.
During the unscheduled special meeting, Brown was told the City Integrity Commissioner does not have the jurisdiction to investigate such a matter.
“The Integrity Commissioner purview is member of Council behaviour, not other corporate business,” senior staff told Brown during the August 26 meeting. He ignored the information, cancelled the investigations then claimed the integrity commissioner could do the work.
In an email to The Pointer September 7, when asked if investigations into City procurements are within the integrity commissioner’s jurisdiction, Principles Integrity, the firm hired as the City’s IC, said it has no jurisdiction to look into an operational issue, such as the issuance of an RFP.
“Our primary focus is on the ethical behaviour of individual members of Council and not on council decisions or operational matters. If there were a complaint about an individual member(s) of Council (or of a local board) inappropriately participating in an RFP process then there might be a role. But generally speaking an integrity commissioner would not have the role an auditor, or a forensic investigator, or an ombudsman might have in such matters,” Principles Integrity wrote.
Despite no work by the integrity commissioner to examine the Brampton University file, Brown lied to Agar, telling him the integrity commissioner had investigated and “found no wrongdoing.”
He then told Agar that “an internal audit looked into it and said there was no wrongdoing.”
This is also blatantly false.
The City’s internal audit department has never done an investigation of the Brampton University file, and when senior staff did review the contracts early this year they found damning evidence of wrongdoing which led to the hiring of Froese Forensic.
A detailed itemized account of spending undertaken to get the controversial university plan off the ground was completed by staff and presented to council. This alerted council that the since abandoned plan cost $629,000, after a consultant called SRA, with Brown’s close friend Rob Godfrey working as the point person, received almost $360,000 more than what council approved for the work in 2019. Five of the twelve deliverables paid for by the City were missing and one was handed in 17 months late when the project was in doubt. These were just some of the alarming details in the staff report.
A staff report reviewed by Council in May showed five of the 12 deliverables paid for by the City were missing and one was handed in 17 months late.
After a blistering meeting in May following the delivery of the staff report, Council, through a formal resolution passed by six members, ordered interim CAO Paul Morrison to engage an external forensic financial investigation firm, a forensic IT firm and a procurement expert to immediately conduct a series of probes into allegations of widespread wrongdoing around hirings and contracts under Brown’s leadership.
The Froese Forensics work (which only investigated the Brampton University contracts) Brown cancelled in August had already found the following:
- Rob Godfrey (Brown’s close friend) was paid for invoices before work was done, a flagrant violation.
- Procurement rules for City contracts were broken.
- Councillor Rowena Santos was in a conflict that she did not disclose when she started to help her friend David Wheeler get one of the contracts early in 2019.
- She told senior staff she could assist Wheeler to help make his work look better to council members.
- Wheeler and Godfrey had unfair advantages over other vendors when the bidding process was undertaken due to their relationship with Brown and Santos.
- One of the bidders had its score lowered after the fact, to ensure it could not compete for the lucrative contract.
- Much of the work that was supposed to be completed by Godfrey was never done.
- There are no records to support the payments that were made; logged hours of work performed to complete requirements under the contracts could not be found.
- It’s unclear how Godfrey’s firm received about $360,000 more than what Council approved, and which staff members are responsible for ordering the unauthorized payments.
- There was a clear relationship between Brown and Godfrey and investigators were attempting to establish if there was a conflict of interest; but Brown cancelled the work before much of the outstanding issues could be investigated.
Screengrabs from the Froese Forensic Partners report detailing some of their findings and showing the relationship between Patrick Brown and Rob Godfrey was being explored when Brown cancelled the investigation.
Council members were not informed of the relationship between Godfrey and Brown or Wheeler and Santos when the contracts were awarded in the fall of 2019.
Despite these facts, which Brown was aware of, he lied to Agar, telling him an internal audit was conducted and it found no wrongdoing.
He then told the radio host the provincial Ombudsman had said the matter “wasn’t worth investigating”.
It was another lie.
When Brown moved to cancel the investigations in the August 26 meeting, staff told him:
“There was a letter from the Ombudsman of Ontario commenting on the investigation that occured in 2021 and was reminding Council that if they do investigations, independent investigations, there are three things to keep in mind: Have a clear purpose and mandate, make sure if there are real or perceived independence in the review, and make sure there are time and resources to complete the review. That was the advice of the Ombudsman that was provided to Council.”
In a May 27 letter to Council, the Ombudsman specifically acknowledged the third-party investigations that had been launched by Council and encouraged members to see the process through.
The video of the August 26 special meeting can be viewed here. Brown called it with less than 24-hours notice for a Friday afternoon, using a 5-4 majority to cancel the investigations while one councillor was absent and another seat remained vacant due to Charmaine Williams’ departure for Queen’s Park as an MPP.
On Thursday, Brown continued to mislead Agar, claiming, “We had three councillors who wanted to run their own investigation, not any official process but three councillors running their own investigation.”
This is false.
A majority of six councillors ordered the investigations in May, and voted that three of them form a steering sub-committee to ensure the independent investigators were aware of the required work detailed in the council motion that initiated the forensic probe. These three members would ensure investigators were engaged in a timely manner by senior City staff and would receive the independent findings of the firms doing the work to make sure council would get unfiltered reports directly from the forensic experts.
Ordered by Council in May, the investigator, Froese Forensic Partners, was in the process of probing the relationship between Rob Godfrey and Brown when the mayor made a motion to cancel the Brampton University investigations as well as four others looking into questionable hirings under Brown’s leadership and other lucrative contracts handed to his friends and associates.
All of the investigation findings were set to be released in September, well ahead of the October 24 election, when Brown called the special meeting at the end of August.
Brown’s appearance Thursday on iHeartRadio is still featured on the Newstalk 1010 website.
During the nine-minute segment, Brown claimed the investigations were a “witch hunt” and an “election-time smear.”
“We had Deloitte look into this. We spent $500,000, Deloitte reported there was no wrongdoing, the Integrity Commissioner looked into it and said there was no wrongdoing, an internal audit looked into it and said there was no wrongdoing, the Ombudsman said it wasn’t worth investigating. Then we had three councillors who wanted to run their own investigation, not any official process but three councillors running their own investigation. They had exceeded budget and this was an election time smear. So council, when they came back for more money said, ‘No, you already looked into this five times, this is wrong and frankly this university advocacy landed us a med school.’”
The claim about the medical school is also misleading.
Brown, Santos and Paul Vicente have claimed that a medical school in Brampton has been approved and will be built in the city by 2025. The PC government has not brought forward any legislation about the future construction of a medical school in the city and no money to build a medical school has been put into the provincial budget ($1 million was approved to explore the idea).
The two main features needed before a school of medicine can be opened do not exist in Brampton. The city has no teaching hospital and there is no university currently equipped to house a medical school. It could take decades before Brampton has these requirements. That has not stopped Brown, Santos and Paul Vicente from claiming in campaign information that the medical school has been finalized and will be opened in 2025.
City Hall has been plagued by other problems Agar alluded to on his show Thursday.
After widespread allegations of wrongdoing under Brown, a review was ordered by Council in 2021. Minutes from closed-door, in camera meetings that were eventually ordered to be released to the public show how Brown tried to interfere with the work, attempted to curtail it to 30 days and tried to influence who would conduct the review. Deloitte was hired despite employing Peter MacKay at the time, the former federal Conservative politician who was at the centre of one of the key allegations. Evidence had come forward that Brown had directed City staff to sell memberships for MacKay during working hours in 2020 when he was vying for the CPC leadership ahead of the 2021 federal election.
The Deloitte work was cut short by Brown and his council allies before it could be completed. MacKay and Brown were never interviewed and his use of City staff was never addressed. Many of the other key allegations were also not addressed.
Deloitte did find egregious hiring practices under Brown, with completely unqualified candidates brought on despite having none of the required education or professional skills. It also found that the since fired CAO, David Barrick, recruited by Brown, routinely broke rules but changed policies on his own to cover up what he had done.
Deloitte did not respond to questions at the time asking why the firm took on the job while MacKay was working for it. MacKay said The Pointer’s questions were the first time he heard about the allegations against Brown for using City resources to help with the leadership campaign. MacKay did not respond to follow-up questions.
The Ontario Ombudsman was contacted after the rushed Deloitte report was filed.
“With respect to specific procurement issues, Deloitte found that the City was not in compliance with its process in certain instances,” the Ombudsman’s office wrote in a letter to Brampton council this past spring. “The report noted that one allegation regarding a relationship between a Director and supplier was not fully investigated as the City required Deloitte to finish the review before the Director was interviewed.”
The letter continued:
“Deloitte’s report further indicated that it was unable to fully investigate some allegations of non-compliance with City hiring processes, as well as allegations related to staff intimidation, due to the City’s decision to end the review.
In addition to identifying various allegations that they were unable to investigate due to time constraints, Deloitte’s report also highlighted various limitations to its investigation.
Six scheduled interviews were not conducted due to time constraints, some individuals declined or were unresponsive to interview requests, and certain cell phone data was not accessed.
The individuals who contacted our Office raised concerns about the quality of Deloitte’s investigation and council’s decision to bring it to a conclusion before the fact gathering had concluded. In addition, complainants raised concerns about the underlying and related matters that were the subject of Deloitte’s review.”
Despite repeated accusations that Brown has tried to cover-up the alleged wrongdoing, his curtailing of the Deloitte work and his cancellation of the Froese Forensics investigation, he tried to convince Agar that everything inside City Hall is above board.
Prior to Brown’s cancellation of the Brampton University investigations, the provincial Ombudsman specifically cautioned against such a move, but he ignored the pointed direction to Brampton council: “Where possible, municipal councils should ensure that investigators have the time and resources needed to access and analyze all sources of relevant information. This leads to a better, more thorough investigation and increases the public’s confidence in the investigative process and its findings.”
Excerpt from an update letter by Froese Forensic Partners showing City policies and procedures were violated.
During the interview with Agar, Brown again misled listeners, claiming councillors “wasted a million dollars looking into something where every neutral official, every regulatory official said there was no wrongdoing so why would you allow three councillors to go on a witch hunt against another councillor?”
During the August 26 meeting, staff made it clear that $100,000 had been spent on the Froese investigation, not $1 million.
Final Status Update Letter from Froese Forensic Partners: Brown claimed the Brampton University forensic investigation by Froese Forensic that he cancelled was “not any official process but three councillors running their own investigation”, describing it as a “witch hunt”.
Agar responded to Brown’s repeated claims, saying he is either “the most put upon politician in this country or he’s a weasel.”
“You end up in the news with controversy around you of an unpleasant nature more than anybody I can think of, and I do this every day.”
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