OTTAWA- Last night, the Senate internal economy committee held a highly-unusual open meeting to look into Sen. Mike Duffy’s living expenses.
As it turns out, the committee’s initial report following a Deloitte audit didn’t quite catch everything.
While the Deloitte audit found Duffy had submitted expense claims for per diems relating to 12 days he spent in Florida, that wasn’t the whole story.
At the meeting, it was further revealed Duffy submitted expense claims and was paid for per diems in Ottawa during a time period when he does not appear to have been in the capital.
This prompted a review of Duffy’s claims from April 2011 to September 2012.
Duffy claimed 49 days of per diems and was paid for 25 days. But it appears he wasn’t in Ottawa for any of them.
– April 2011, six days claimed, paid six days.
– May 2011, two days claimed, paid two days.
– June 2011, one day claimed, not paid.
– August 2011, 18 days claimed, not paid.
– September 2011, six days claimed, paid three days.
– October 2011, two days claimed, paid one day.
– January 2012, 13 days claimed, paid 12 days.
– March 2012, one day claimed, paid one day.
“To conclude, this review leads to a conclusion that the Deloitte finding in relation to per diems claimed in January 2012, when the senator was in Florida, is not an isolated incident; it represents a pattern that raises concerns,” said Senate clerk Gary O’Brien, in a transcript.
“As shown in the above table, there were 49 days where per diems were claimed in Ottawa during a time period, according to the Deloitte report, that Senator Duffy does not appear to have been in Ottawa.”
“Senator Duffy has never been interviewed in this regard.”
Meanwhile, the Senate adopted “11 tough new rules” governing Senate travel and expenses proposed by Conservative senators, according to a release from the government leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton.
“We said we would fix the Senate’s rules governing travel and expenses, and we delivered,” she said.
The 11 new measures:
1. Remove the principal from the Senate Administrative Rules that states a Senator is presumed to act honorably with respect to expenses.
2. Clarify and make consistent terminology surrounding residency for the purposes of expense claims.
3. Require a Senator to provide a specific purpose for travel when claiming expenses.
4. Require Senators to maintain mileage logs for the purpose of claiming mileage.
5. Require taxi receipts be providing when claiming taxi expenses.
6. Restrict per diems in the NCR (National Capital Region) to days the Senate sits, days the Senator attends committee meetings and up to 20 additional days while on approved Senate business.
7. Amend the 64 point travel system to limit Senators to 12 trips not between the NCR and the Senator’s provincial residence.
8. Restrict a Senator’s designated traveler to a spouse or partner.
9. Require Administration to provide Internal Economy with monthly reports on travel patterns.
10. Amend the categories of travel to Regular Senate Business Travel and Other Senate Business Travel.
11. Eliminate the ability to use a travel point for international travel except for the currently authorized maximum of four trips in total to New York City (for UN-related business only) and Washington, D.C.
As for Duffy, he was invited to Tuesday’s meeting.
But he didn’t show up.