Even as calls grow for him to resign, Mayor Matt Brown says he’s going back to work.
During a media conference Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, Brown said that after one week of unpaid leave, he’d be returning to his position that same day.
He’d been away from his post since last Tuesday when he and former Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy admitted to an extramarital affair.
Cassidy remains on an unpaid leave of absence and while she’s stepped down from her role as deputy mayor, she retains her Ward 5 council seat.
Speaking at the news conference Wednesday afternoon, Brown first addressed the crowd of assembled journalists with a prepared statement.
“It’s time now for me to return to work and as of today I will be returning as mayor,” he said.
He reiterated that he’d made a “grave error in judgement,” but said he didn’t want to take away from the good work council has done.
“I’ve made a commitment to being open and honest, no matter how painful or embarrassing that it has been. What occurred should never have happened and it’s something I take responsibility for and it’s something that I deeply regret. This has been a difficult and a painful time for everyone involved.”
Brown’s decision to return to the mayor’s post comes one day after the Greg Stewart, London’s new integrity commissioner, issued a report that stated Brown and Cassidy both violated three sections of the city’s code of conduct.
“I need to work very hard to regain the trust and the respect of my fellow Londoners and I’m prepared to do exactly that,” Brown said.
Brown, who is married with two young children, confirmed the infidelity to AM980’s Craig Needles last week in an interview that aired Wednesday morning.
In the days that followed, Brown and Cassidy took leaves of absence from their offices without pay.
Brown also met with the newly-appointed integrity commissioner last Thursday.
Stewart’s report did not make any recommendations or offer any possible penalties.
“The Mayor and Deputy Mayor have each, separately, disclosed that for a period of time, they together, engaged in what they have referred to as an inappropriate relationship,” wrote Stewart. “In light of this disclosure, I believe that to conduct any further search for details would be to engage in an exercise in seeking out the salacious details of the situation – an exercise which, other than satisfying curiosity, would serve no purpose,” he wrote.
Stewart wrote that “hopefully council and the community can get beyond the understandable immediate anger, outrage, and sense of disappointment” caused by the scandal and “get on with the business of the City.”
Despite the findings, the integrity commissioner does not have the authority to remove anyone from office and can only recommend a 90-day suspension.
The former Ward 7 City Councillor was elected mayor in October 2014 following a campaign based largely on increasing transparency, and restoring integrity at London City Hall following Joe Fontana’s troubled term which ended prematurely after he was convicted of fraud in June 2014.
Fontana would step down as mayor days later, and was replaced shortly thereafter by Joni Baechler who was appointed his successor following a vote by Council colleagues. Baechler opted not to run in the 2014 election, but publicly endorsed Maureen Cassidy who went on to win Baechler’s former Council seat in Ward 5.