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PMO staff apologize for $200K moving expenses, will repay some funds

WATCH ABOVE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on $200,000 moving bill for top aides

Two senior staff from the Prime Minister’s Office have posted a public explanation and apology for more than $200,000 in moving expenses charged to the public purse.

On Thursday a message was posted on the Facebook page of Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s principal secretary, on behalf of Butts and Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on $200,000 moving bill for top aides

“Katie and I feel like we owe people an explanation after the news stories involving our families over the last couple of days. Here’s our best shot at it.”

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Trudeau has been under fire in recent days since it was revealed five of his staff members had expensed $220,000 in moving costs for their relocation to Ottawa. He has stood by the moving costs, saying all staff followed the rules in their claims.

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WATCH: Trudeau takes heat over relocation expenses for top staffers

Trudeau staffers own up to billing for relocation expenses
Trudeau staffers own up to billing for relocation expenses

“The Canadian government has been covering relocation costs for senior public servants and ministers’ staff for a long time, since my father was prime minister of this country,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday.

“We followed all the rules … and I can assure everyone that both the policy itself and the administration of the policy was done in accordance with all rules.”

In the Facebook note, Butts breaks down the costs each of them claimed; Telford’s include $44,149 for real estate commission, fees and employer taxes, $10,735 for moving logistics, and $23,373 for personalized cash payout and incidentals.

Butts’ include $47,103 for real estate commission, fees and employer taxes, $14,636 for moving logistics, and $20,799 for personalized cash payout and incidentals.

READ MORE: Conservatives hammer Trudeau Liberals over $1.1M in staff relocation expenses

“When we reviewed these costs, we decided that the amount called “personalized cash payout” which is for miscellaneous moving expenses is unreasonable, and we will both be reimbursing that amount,” the message states.

Butts will also reimburse land transfer costs, which is listed at $25,141.

WATCH: Conservatives continue to call out Liberals over moving expenses 
Conservatives continue to call out Liberals over moving expenses
Conservatives continue to call out Liberals over moving expenses

Telford and Butts said they “will only be reimbursed for the hard costs of our families making the move.”

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“We take full responsibility for this having happened and because of this we are sorry.”

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Trudeau has asked the Treasury Board to create a new policy to govern such expenses, the note concludes.

**Editor’s note: The dollar amount in the headline has been changed from $220,000 to $200,000. The moving expense total for five PMO staff was $220,000; for Telford and Butts it was just more than $200,000. The headline has been updated for accuracy.

With a file from Andrew Russell