Renewed calls for investigation after emails reveal Matt Brown's preferential treatment to Cassidy
There are renewed calls for an integrity commissioner investigation into the affair between Mayor Matt Brown and Coun. Maureen Cassidy.
Emails obtained by CTV News through the Freedom of Information Act, sheds new light on political decisions made in the months before their affair became public.
CTV News showed some of the emails to local blogger Amanda Stratton.
Last month, her blog post challenged whether the affair between mayor Matt Brown and then deputy mayor Maureen Cassidy was more than just a personal matter.
She's calling for a full investigation by the integrity commissioner into whether Cassidy received poltical or career advancement.
"An advancement and maybe in an unfair sort of way that maybe not everyone on council was being given the same opportunities," says Stratton.
Brown and Cassidy have refused to say when the affair took place.
The emails obtained by CTV News through the Freedom of Information Act trace decisions that were made this spring before the affair became public.
On March 16, the mayor emails nomination information to Cassidy about board of directors positions with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, writing to Cassidy, "in case you have not seen this."
A month later and the night before council nominates one of its members, the mayor sends Cassidy an email stating, "I think you have this no matter what you say," and adds 8 bullet points he says are "things to highlight."
She refers to seven of them during her candidacy speech to council the next night.
The mayor then voted in a ranked ballot for Cassidy.
She was nominated over Coun. Usher in a 7 to 5 vote.
Fanshawe College political scientist Matt Farrell says loose political alliances are common in municipal politics but this one is different.
"Here we have a bit of a different example because we have an explicit disclosed inappropriate relationship. So I think that makes it a little more direct and raises a lot of questions," says Farrell.
The Council Code of Conduct section 2.2 states: "Members should be committed to performing the functions with integrity and to avoiding the improper use of the influence of their office, and conflicts of interest, including apparent conflicts of interest."
Another time the mayor seems to provide an unsolicited opportunity related to his poverty reduction strategy.
Cassidy was the only member of the Poverty Panel advanced onto the implimentation team.
Brown emailed Cassidy, "You're leading the implementation," to which Cassidy replied, "Um...I don't remember signing up for that."
The mayor responds with "Ongoing leadership role..."
But only three weeks prior, Cassidy admitted struggling as a member of the Poverty Panel, Cassidy copied Brown on an email to some city hall managers saying in part, "Thanks especially for propping me up psychologically and emotionally when I knew I was in way over my head."
Other emails show Cassidy pushing for opportunities.
In April there was a motion the mayor was preparing to improve relations with nearby First Nations Communities.
Brown suggests Coun. Tanya Park be asked to second his motion.
Three minutes later Cassidy responds, "Why can't I second it?"
The mayor responded, "Want to?"
Cassidy responds, "Yes, f*ck all those people who profess to be so pro 1st nations relations and who have done precisely f*ck all!"
Council meeting minutes reveal Cassidy put forward a First Nations motion a week later.
Although CTV cannot confirm it was the same one referred to by the mayor's email.
"She's being singled out for special treatment," says Farrell.
Farrell believes the new revelations could widen political rifts already caused by the affair.
"It really throws a wrench into things when we have one person clearly having doors open for them. You are bound to alienate other city councillors," says Farrell.
During the June news conference announcing his return from his leave of absence, Brown said this about the impact the affair had on decision making.
"Each and every vote I've participated in up to this point has been focused on making the right decision as a council."
The integrity commissioner has not conducted a full investigation into the affair, instead writing a four page report based on media reports and a conversation with the mayor, finding three violations of the council code of conduct.
In a letter to Stratton in July Brown stated, “I did refer to the question regarding the mayor’s activities with respect to votes with respect to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities pertaining to the deputy mayor."
Stratton says that does not go enough.
"It deserves an investigation, a proper investigation by the integrity commissioner who has access to everything."
Brown did not make himself available for this story following three days of requests for an interview.
Cassidy has not responded to repeated interview requests related to the emails.