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Audit finds Toronto mayor overspent on campaign

TORONTO (Reuters) - A week after a court battle that nearly cost Rob Ford his job as mayor of Canada's largest city, an audit found that the combative Toronto politician had exceeded spending limits during the 2010 campaign that launched him into office.

A report released by the auditors on Friday said Ford had overstepped spending limits by about C$40,000 ($40,000), or about 3 percent in the election campaign. It also found that he had received some goods and services at favorable terms.

Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor's brother and campaign director, told reporters that Ford had nothing to hide, and said different interpretations of rules for campaign fundraisers were behind some of the issues raised by the auditors.

"Maybe they should check every single campaign," he said.

A city audit compliance committee will decide if Ford will face a penalty for breaking campaign rules. Penalties could involve reprimands, fines or even Ford's removal from office, although tough penalties are rare for small-scale overspending. The panel will meet later this month to decide what to do.

Ford campaigned on promises to "stop the gravy train" at city hall and keep tight control on spending without tax hikes.

But he has made headlines with a series of high-profile gaffes. A photographer captured him reading while driving on a city expressway. He called police when a comedian tried to film part of a popular TV show outside his home, and he skipped city council meetings to coach high school football.

Last week, Ford won a court appeal against a lower court ruling that would have removed him from office for breaching the city's conflict of interest rules. He always denied he had done anything wrong.

Ford won a libel case recently in which he was sued for C$6 million ($5.98 million) over comments he made about corruption at city hall during his 2010 campaign for mayor.

(Reporting by Cameron French and Janet Guttsman; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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