Ipswich mayor 'all good' after comprehensive CCC probe
THE UMPIRE has made its decision.
And, in cricket terminology, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was ruled "not out" and free to continue his long innings with his head held high and his various community funds intact.
The Crime and Corruption Commission's initial statement on May 7 after a 10-month investigation into Cr Pisasale and his funds contains one sentence that sums up the fact that he had no case to answer. It is this: "The CCC did not identify any criminal conduct, and, in particular, found no evidence that Mayor Pisasale misused any community funds for campaigning".
MORE ON THIS STORY: Pisasale says funds help the needy
That answered the crux of 13 allegations against him.
This ruling should be a massive relief for businesses and individuals who have contributed to, and benefited from, those various funds.
They can now know that those funds are being used for the purpose they were set up for.
The mayor is not corrupt.
It is a message that comes through even more loud and clear after Cr Pisasale shared with the QT a letter written by a high ranking CCC official to his lawyer outlining its rulings and the thorough nature of its investigation.
The letter reveals that the CCC interviewed 37 witnesses and conducted a forensic examination of relevant electoral disclosure returns for the council elections of 2012, the register of interests held for Cr Pisasale by ICC and the financial statements and other records of relevant incorporated associations
"The most important thing that came out of this whole 10 months is the way the people of Ipswich had confidence in me and supported me, which is why I have made the decision to sit down with the QT and share the contents of the letter," Cr Pisasale said.
The first of the false accusations against Cr Pisasale came on November 5, 2014 when he was accused of an inappropriate use of Bremer TAFE staff, students and resources.
"During my 20th anniversary we had a function at Civic Hall and they needed more staff so we used hospitality students at TAFE, and they were paid," Cr Pisasale said.
"At the end of the function I brought all the students out and said, 'Folks, if anybody can employ these students please do so because they have done a great job tonight'.
"So somebody on that night has reported that I misused them."
The CCC found the Bremer TAFE allegation to be false and said in the letter it found "no evidence to consider taking any action against your client".
The entire letter is too long to include here.
But what it does do is outline the forensic examination of Cr Pisasale's community funds and Forward Ipswich.
One of the 13 allegations was a conspiracy theory that Cr Pisasale dishonestly received wine from a Brisbane restaurant. The QT understands the allegations to have centred on a wine cellar that was supposedly located beneath the restaurant solely for Cr Pisasale's use, containing thousand of dollars worth of vintage wine.
The accusation was found to be baseless.
"This ruling has put to bed all the rubbish rumours out there from political enemies on Facebook and Twitter who are continuing their campaign because they can't accept the umpire's decision and think they are better than the CCC," Cr Pisasale said.
The Ipswich public rightly needs to know whether the mayor cooperated with the CCC or whether he stalled.
The CCC makes the answer clear.
The letter states: "I acknowledge your client fully cooperated with the investigation and voluntarily participated in two recorded interviews with our investigators".
In defending himself against false accusations, Cr Pisasale, ratepayers and taxpayers have had to cough up funds and valuable resources. His accusers have wasted a lot of people's time.
"Every one of my personal accounts has been examined," Cr Pisasale said.
"It has been a micro-forensic analysis of my entire life, a document that is 300 pages long. It cost this city $250,000 in time, cost me personally $20,000 in (legal) expenses and the taxpayers of Queensland around $750, 000," Cr Pisasale said.
Cr Pisasale was accused of "dishonestly establishing Forward Ipswich to subvert his gift disclosure obligations" that he "dishonestly benefited from funds such as Forward Ipswich, Ipswich Mayor's Community Fund and...Carols by Candlelight Fund" and other similar accusations. The CCC has categorically stated it "found no evidence" that he misused those funds.
All of this should be enough for Cr Pisasale's enemies to accept the umpire's decision.
It should also give the Ipswich community confidence that the mayor's funds are being used for what they were designed for.