Senators under microscope reduce expenses
Published Thursday, March 28, 2013 8:06PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:30PM EDT
Three senators whose expense claims are under scrutiny have reduced their spending in the last quarter, according to newly released records.
Liberal Sen. Mac Harb, Conservative Sen. Pamela Wallin and Independent Sen. Patrick Brazeau all claimed fewer expenses for the period between Dec. 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013.
But a fourth senator whose spending is being audited, Conservative Mike Duffy, claimed 19 per cent more in living expenses compared to the previous quarter.
After concerns were raised about the housing and living allowances claimed by Harb, Brazeau and Duffy, the Senate called in accounting firm Deloitte earlier this year to audit their expenses.
Duffy later promised to repay some of the money, saying he may have mistakenly filled out expense forms.
Wallin is also being audited for her travel expenses. Sources have told CTV News that she repaid a significant amount of money before auditors were called in.
According to the latest expense reports, Brazeau claimed $1,750 in living expenses in the last quarter. He has been claiming $5,250 per quarter since June 2011.
Brazeau hasn’t claimed any living expenses since Jan.1. He was arrested on Feb. 7 after an incident at his Gatineau, Que. home, for which he claimed a housing allowance.
Brazeau was charged with assault and sexual assault. He told the court he would be staying at his father’s home in Maniwaki, Que. while his case is before the courts.
Meanwhile, Harb cut his living expenses by 50 per cent this quarter – from $4,478 to $2,239. That was also a 50 per cent reduction compared to his two-year average spending from 2010 to 2012.
Wallin’s travel expenses decreased by 50 per cent since the previous quarter. According to Senate expense records, she spent $7,312 on regular travel and $43,465 in “other” travel from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012.
Between Dec. 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013, she claimed $815 in regular travel and $24, 323 in “other” travel, for a total overall decrease of $25, 638.
Duffy, however, claimed $882, or 19 per cent, more this quarter in living expenses. He claimed $5,518 compared to $4,636 in the previous quarter.
The upper chamber has been grappling with the issue of expenses after some senators were accused of misusing the taxpayer-funded housing allowance.
Senators whose primary residence is 100 kilometres from Ottawa can claim up to $22,000 per year in housing and meal expenses.
Brazeau claimed his father’s home in Maniwaki, Que., as his primary residence, even though he lived in Gatineau.
Duffy told the Senate that his home in Prince Edward Island was his primary address, even though he has lived in Ottawa for decades and did not have a valid P.E.I. health card.
And when CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife visited the Ottawa Valley home Harb claims is his main residence, neighbours said they rarely see the senator in the area.
With a report from Ottawa field producer Philip Ling
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