OTTAWA -- Legal action by the widow of a former senator who died owing money to the Senate could make it harder to recover the funds.
Former Liberal senator Rod Zimmer died last June, at age 73. He had separated from 27-year-old wife Maygan Sensenberger before he died, but left a hand-written will - on Senate letterhead - allocating $100,000 to his "separated wife." Zimmer signed the will last February.
Auditor General Michael Ferguson determined in 2015 that Zimmer, who retired in 2013, had inappropriately claimed $176,012 in expenses. The Senate internal economy committee met Thursday, and is still deciding whether to try to recoup more than half a million dollars from seven senators, including Zimmer. They were among a group of 30 senators found to be owing repayments, 23 of whom have already refunded the money.
Zimmer left an estate worth $296,000 and a million-dollar home in Ottawa's tony Rockliffe neighbourhood. But last month, Sensenberger sought to have the house declared the matrimonial home, which would have made her the co-owner. She later retracted the claim, allowing the estate to sell the house the next day.
It's not clear how much is left of Zimmer's estate, should the Senate committee decide to pursue the amount owing. Wayne Zimmer, the late senator's brother and the estate trustee, says the Senate hasn't even contacted him about collecting the outstanding repayment.
Zimmer and Sensenberger first made headlines over their May-December romance, which included engagement photos taken on Parliament Hill. In 2013, she received a suspended sentence for causing a disturbance on a plane after she and Zimmer had an argument during a flight from Ottawa to Saskatoon.
Last July, the Ottawa Citizen reported Sensenberger received another suspended sentence and 15 months probation for greeting police with two kitchen knives when they arrived at the Rockliffe house to arrest her on a warrant for skipping a previous court date. Sensenberger had been arrested in August, 2014 for causing a disturbance at a medical clinic, the newspaper reported. Sensenberger allegedly used a lit cigarette and a hand-held fan as weapons at the clinic. Last year, she pleaded guilty to mischief for kicking out a police car window following the arrest at the clinic.
The Citizen reported Sensenberger's lawyer noted she didn't admit to the details of the August arrest, although they were read into the record in court.
Police discovered the warrant for Sensenberger after paramedics were called to the Rockliffe home to treat Zimmer. She was allegedly belligerent, so the paramedics called for police backup. They left once she calmed down, the Citizen reported, but returned to arrest her after discovering the warrant.
The newspaper reported Sensenberger had completed rehab and was sober when she was sentenced in 2015.
- With files from Glen McGregor