Mike Duffy drops out of sight in P.E.I. as controversy grows
Published Friday, May 17, 2013 10:05PM EDT
Sen. Mike Duffy is staying in his secluded Prince Edward Island cottage as controversy surrounding improper expense claims continues to grow.
Duffy did not answer the door at 10 Friendly Lane. Instead, a call from inside the Cavendish cottage summoned the RCMP to remove journalists from the property.
“The only thing I'll say guys is, the claim was made that you were on the property and the property owner doesn't want you on the property,” the attending officer said. “So the only thing I will ask is you just don't return to this property."
The unsuccessful interview attempt came on a day when the Senate’s internal economy committee indicated that it plans to take another look at Duffy’s expense claims.
Duffy’s expenses had been the subject of an internal audit, as were those of Senators Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb, over concerns about their living expense claims. Last week, a Senate committee ordered Brazeau to repay about $48,000, and Harb $51,000.
Earlier this week, CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported that the prime minister’s Chief of Staff Nigel Wright gave Duffy a $90,000 personal cheque so the senator could repay improperly claimed living expenses, which he did in March. The cheque, which is considered a gift, may have violated ethics rules, which state that senators must declare all gifts over $500 within 30 days.
On Thursday, CTV News reported that documents show Duffy billed taxpayers for Senate business while he campaigned for the Conservatives during the last federal election. The documents raise questions about whether Duffy double-billed for expenses.
The Conservative Party said it paid for Duffy’s campaign expenses.
Amid the growing questions, Duffy stepped down from the Conservative caucus Thursday, saying the controversy “has become a distraction.”
Residents of the tiny community of Cavendish, which was built to host vacationers, are divided. Some pity the senator, and others say the entire controversy could have been avoided if Duffy had never been appointed as a senator from P.E.I. in the first place.
"Very shady eh?” one resident said. “It makes Islanders look bad to tell you the truth."
"If someone gives you $90,000 to pay something off, something's going on, don't you think so?” wondered another.
A third said: “Well, he shouldn't be in the Senate anymore, that’s what I would say.”
With a report from CTV’s Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis