Election briefs

Membership in Mel has its privileges

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Travelling in Mayor Mel’s circle has its perks. After serving as a volunteer fundraising co-chair on the mayor’s 1997 campaign, Karen Miller was tapped to organize the mayor and wife Marilyn’s wildly successful arts balls.

The Toronto Arts Council Foundation paid a total of $215,000 to a professional fundraiser for coordinating the 1998 and 99 galas, according to the charity’s Revenue Canada disclosures. Foundation treasurer Sam Marinucci confirms that Miller was paid $100,000 in 98 and $115,000 in 99 for her services. The two balls netted just over $1 million.

But Miller, fundraising co-chair of the mayor’s current re-election campaign, says those numbers don’t reflect her true fees.

“It’s not ‘Karen Miller pockets,'” she says. “You pay somebody to do something, they’ve got lots of expenses. What the net is is something different.”

Miller declines to reveal what her take-home pay was.

After phoning her accountant, Miller calls back to point out that those numbers are also misleading because they don’t reflect volunteer time and cash donations she gives to the foundation.

The foundation dispensed $226,000 in grants in 1999 and will dole out at least $315,000 this year.

Although nothing’s confirmed, Miller says she’s talking about organizing the next foundation gala. But she says the ball may not carry the mayor’s name.

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