Sen. Mike Duffy has started filing expense claims in Ottawa again, just under four months after he was cleared of criminal charges linked to his past expenses.
The senator was fully reinstated – with a complete salary and office resources – in April when Ontario Justice Charles Vaillancourt dismissed the charges.
For the four-month period between March 1 and June 30, the latest quarterly Senate expense reports show Duffy filed for, and received, $1,691.59 linked to “living expenses in the National Capital Region.”
Duffy also filed $627 for regular Senate business travel and $19,659.33 for staff and office personnel.
WATCH: Senator Mike Duffy goes back to work
The precise nature of Duffy’s living expenses in Ottawa is unknown, as the report does not provide a line-by-line summary of what was charged to taxpayers.
“I filed my claims as the Senate rules provide, as was approved by Senate administration, and as Judge Vaillancourt agreed were valid,” Duffy said in an emailed statement to Global News on Tuesday.
Duffy’s residential status was one of the central issues during his trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. While it was established that the P.E.I. senator had been living primarily in Ottawa, Duffy was filing expenses as if his Kanata, Ont. home were a secondary residence. A cottage in P.E.I. was considered his primary residence.
Senate spokesperson Jacqui Delaney told Global News in an emailed statement that Duffy is acting within the rules, and has submitted all of the documents to prove he is a resident of Prince Edward Island.
“As per the new rule adopted in May 2013, Senator Duffy has submitted a Declaration of Provincial/Territorial Residence and National Capital Accommodation,” she wrote.
Duffy provided the following supporting documents:
- Senator’s driver’s licence
- Senator’s provincial health card
- Notice of assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency
“This declaration and supporting documents must be submitted annually,” Delaney added.
Taxpayers Federation disappointed, not shocked
But Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says Duffy is “thumbing his nose at Canadians.” He called the new claims “really disappointing but not entirely shocking.”
“This is an individual who seems to have confused legal vindication in the court with a moral vindication in the public eye,” Wudrick said.
“Everyone knows that Mike Duffy lives in Ottawa full-time … if these (Senate) rules allow someone to circumvent that by simply producing these three pieces of ID, then that means that there’s something wrong with those rules.”
The fact that Duffy only returned to work on April 21 means that his living expenses were actually much lower than those reported by many of his fellow senators during the same period.
Senator still owes money
In June, Senate officials said that in spite of the fact that he had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, Duffy needed to pay back $16,955 in what they called ineligible expenses from before his trial.
The clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy sent the senator a letter on June 8 spelling out why they think he still owes the Senate money.
“New information surfaced in the public domain including the judgement as well as additional supporting documentation, which warranted an assessment of the eligibility of some expenses,” the letter read.
Duffy has since indicated that he will not pay the expenses back. But on Tuesday, CTV News reported the senator received another letter last week advising him that his pay would be docked by 20 per cent until the nearly $17,000 is recovered.