Patrick Brown is warning supporters to brace for more negative stories thanks to so-called "forces" that don't want him as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
Brown stepped down as PC leader in late January amid sexual misconduct-allegations that he denies, and declared he would run for his old job Friday just hours after interim leader Vic Fedeli booted him from caucus.
"I want you to know that over the next weeks you may hear or see stories questioning my integrity, character and my leadership of our Party," he said in another lengthy Facebook post Tuesday hinting at more shoes to drop.
"It has been revealed through news stories about my personal finances, that these individuals have illegally gained access to my personal information. This includes bank statements, mortgage information, legal documents, all of which is legally protected and personal information," he wrote.
"They have taken that stolen information to the media to cast further doubt."
Brown was referencing a report from The Globe and Mail of an affidavit showing he discussed selling his interest in a Barrie restaurant and Aeroplan miles for $375,000 to paralegal Jass Johal, just months before Johal was acclaimed as PC candidate.
The Globe report said bank statements show Brown deposited $375,000 into a personal account in July 2016, one month after the affidavit was signed. Brown told the newspaper that the money came from his family to help purchase a home and no deal was done with Johal.
"The story out there today is intended as an attack on my character and my ability to manage my personal finances," Brown wrote on Facebook. "Let me be clear, like many young Canadians — my family loaned me the money to help with the down payment on my house."
Brown also tried to address questions about party memberships under his leadership. Though Brown boasted that he grew the membership to 200,000, Fedeli has said the number is closer to 133,000.
PC MPP Randy Hillier tweeted over the weekend that Brown needs to answer for "not only the 70,000 fraudulent memberships, but also the $700,000 that those memberships represent." Hillier followed up Tuesday with a statement saying Brown is unfit to serve in the legislature.
"Mr. Brown has shown he has no integrity, has been dishonest, and has engaged in activities that are unbecoming of an elected member," Hillier said. "There is a lot of dirt that he has swept under the carpet, and only now is it coming to light. It is clear that he had an arrangement to receive $375,000 from a PC candidate, and that he failed to disclose this."
Hillier has said he will file a complaint with Ontario's Integrity Commissioner regarding Brown's alleged conduct.
But just as he did at a rally Sunday in Mississauga, Brown put the blame on thousands of memberships expiring between December 2017 and January 2018.
"There are accusations of false Party memberships and missing monies," he wrote. "There is absolutely zero truth to either accusation."
Brown ended his post saying a "small group of insiders" will stop at nothing to derail him.
"I trusted many of those individuals and believed until three weeks ago they were on my side. I can no longer stand by and let any accusation go unchecked."
After the Globe story broke Sunday, Brown tweeted what he said was a 2016 affidavit proving the deal with Johal did not happen.
"A former member of my senior staff stole my personal financial information and then deceptively provided an incomplete and misleading version to the Globe," he wrote.
Brown's former senior staff — including chief of staff Alykhan Velshi and campaign manager Andrew Boddington — resigned minutes before CTV News aired a bombshell report on Jan. 24 detailing misconduct allegations from two women against the then-PC leader. Velshi now serves as chief of staff to the interim PC leader.
At a press conference at Queen's Park, Fedeli was asked if his staff is leaking materials about Brown to the media.
"I have absolute, complete confidence in the staff," Fedeli said. "Plain and simply put."
The interim PC leader repeatedly dodged questions about his decision to kick Brown out of the party's caucus by saying his comments might interfere in the leadership race.
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"Now that (Brown) is in the race and he's one of the five candidates, quite frankly, I think it's unfair to talk about him.. from me," Fedeli said. "I'm interim leader. I must remain neutral in this process."
Fedeli suggested he did not know Brown would be running for PC leader at the time that he turfed him from caucus.
"I wrote to the party president and indicated that Mr. Brown did not have my confidence to be party candidate in Barrie,'' he said. "Now that he's a candidate, it's very difficult to speak about him and not the other candidates. That was done before he filed nomination papers for the leadership."
Brown was not in the legislature Tuesday to kick off the final session before an election on June 7.
Ontario Tories will choose a new leader on March 10. Former MPP Christine Elliott, lawyer Caroline Mulroney, former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford and sex-ed critic Tanya Granic Allen are also running for the job.
With files from The Canadian Press