The Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate, could face misconduct proceedings after a scathing rebuke by Queensland’s corruption watchdog over his actions in public office.
Key findings from the Crime and Corruption Commission’s investigation into allegations of corrupt conduct involving senior council employees and councillors relate to Tate and his chief of staff, Wayne Moran.
It found Moran, Tate’s former election campaign manager, inappropriately interfered in council business.
The findings, tabled in state parliament on Friday, acknowledge a perception that Moran’s friends and associates benefited from his council position.
“However, it is clear that this was also the reality,” the report adds.
The CCC also found Moran failed to properly declare conflicts of interest, and that council chief executive Dale Dickson was blocked by Tate when he attempted to start a disciplinary process.
That led some councillors and staff to believe Moran was untouchable and free to do and act however he wanted, the CCC’s report said.
Tate’s actions in relation to that matter did not meet the threshold for criminal prosecution, the CCC said, but could amount to misconduct, and have been referred to the Office of the Independent Assessor.
Complaints assessed by the OIA that are found to amount to misconduct can be prosecuted through the Councillor Conduct Tribunal or the courts.
Findings of inappropriate conduct are referred back to the council to investigate.
The OIA has confirmed it is investigating Tate over allegations relating to his expenses, that he made donations which exceeded council policy limits and interfered in a council disciplinary process.
An alleged failure to record his interest in the racehorse Go Gold Coast has already gone through this process and is awaiting a Councillor Conduct Tribunal hearing to determine whether it is misconduct.
Tate is no longer a syndicate shareholder of the horse.
Council policy allows mayors to spend $500 on obligatory raffle tickets and donations while attending community events and functions. But financial analysis shows Tate spent $21,000 between 2016 and 2018.
He also used a council credit card to buy and repair luggage at a cost of $2,960.
Other expenditures flagged by the CCC include Gold Coast Titans memberships, watch batteries, $500 headphones, home media equipment and an internet service.
His office also bought two selfie sticks at a combined cost of $998, organised through Moran. One was for his daughter, the cost of which he later repaid to the council.
The commission also found Tate failed to update his register of interests within the required time frame after a trip to Beijing.
No charges have been laid as a result of the investigation, and its report notes Tate denies any breach of council policies, inappropriate conduct and misconduct.