Senate committee votes to refer Mike Duffy file to RCMP
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2013 11:22AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2013 10:52PM EDT
The Senate’s internal economy committee unanimously voted Tuesday to refer Sen. Mike Duffy’s expense claims to the RCMP, after officials revealed a pattern of improperly filed expenses.
Meanwhile, CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported that a senior RCMP investigator contacted CTV News about its reports on the Duffy scandal.
The investigator asked about a Feb. 20 email, obtained by CTV, in which Duffy said the prime minister’s then-chief of staff Nigel Wright had worked out scenarios to help the senator pay back $90,000 in improperly claimed expenses.
Fife said he did not give any information to the RCMP.
At the Senate committee, Senate clerk Gary O’Brien and director of finance Nicole Proulx revealed that Duffy claimed Ottawa-based expenses on 49 days in 2011 and 2012 when he was not in the capital. Senate finance staff rejected 24 of those claims.
Proulx said Duffy unsuccessfully tried to claim expenses for 18 days in August 2011 when he was actually in Prince Edward Island and had also filed a travel claim at the same time.
It was previously noted that Duffy also claimed per diems while on vacation in Florida – a mistake he blamed on a clerical error. However, the senate committee established Tuesday that Duffy had to sign all of his expense claims himself.
Officials also confirmed that Duffy billed for expenses while campaigning for the Conservatives in the 2011 federal election. He claimed Senate business-related expenses on seven days when he was actually on the campaign trail and having his hotel and travel costs covered by the Conservative Party.
An external audit by accounting firm Deloitte had already pointed out that Duffy may have been claiming expenses while outside of Ottawa, but the auditors mainly relied on cellphone records because the senator did not co-operate with them.
Duffy, who earlier Tuesday said he would attend the committee meeting, was a no-show. Last week, Duffy told reporters he wanted an open inquiry into the expense scandal and would be “happy to co-operate.”
The Senate took the unusual step of opening Tuesday night’s committee meeting to the public, as the scandal surrounding Duffy grows.
In addition to turning the matter over to police, the Senate committee also wants the Mounties to look into Duffy’s $90,172 repayment to the government for improperly claimed expenses.
Fife revealed two weeks ago that Wright wrote Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to cover the senator’s debt.
Fife also revealed that Duffy’s audit report was whitewashed before it was made public. The original version said Duffy broke the rules when he declared a P.E.I. cottage as his primary residence and noted that the senator refused to co-operate with independent auditors.
The Senate committee voted Tuesday night to reinstate the damning language that was removed from the original report.
Wright has since resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office and Duffy left the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent.
Before the deal between Duffy and Wright was revealed, the Conservative government praised Duffy for his “leadership” in offering to reimburse the taxpayers before the Deloitte audit was released.