OTTAWA – The Senate is refusing to reveal which days Sen. Mike Duffy claimed or attempted to claim per diems – including full details about 25 days he was paid more than $2,000 in taxpayer money, all of which are now in question.
The Senate’s open-door internal economy committee released part of that information Tuesday night as it voted to send Duffy’s expenses to the RCMP.
But Global News attempted to obtain a specific breakdown of 49 days Duffy claimed or tried to claim per diems over an 11-month period. The veracity of all these claims is now in question. At the meeting, 15 of those days were specificially identified; nine paid, one unpaid, and five unidentified. The rest remain a mystery.
Duffy also tried to claim 18 per diems in August 2011 but his requests were refused because he appeared to be in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. It is not known however what the specific dates in August are.
The chair of the committee, Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk, brusquely walked away from reporters asking for a breakdown of the per diems, hoping to figure out where Duffy was on days when he received or tried to claim an $86 per diem from the Senate.
“It’s going to be referred to the police, so we’re being extremely careful about what we’re doing. That’s all I have to say.”
Contacted by Global News, the Senate finance department referred all matters to communications. The communications branch referred a reporter to the Deloitte audit and the committee’s records, none of which contained the specific information.
Senators who don’t live in the Ottawa-area can claim a per diem for meals and incidentals when they are on Senate business.
A Deloitte report looking into Duffy’s expenses already identified 12 days in January 2012 when he was in Florida but tried to claim an Ottawa per diem. Duffy has said it was a clerical error by a temporary worker.
But Tuesday the Senate clerk said the review of Duffy’s expenses indicates it was “not an isolated incident.”
“It represents a pattern that raises concerns,” said clerk Gary O’Brien. “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.”
Meanwhile, a CBC report suggests that after Duffy was appointed to the Senate, he was also gunning for a cabinet position with perks such as staff, a car and resources.
When asked if expense information should be available, Tkachuk asked, “Why?”
“All the taxpayers money has been paid back,” he said. It was recently revealed Prime Minister Stephen Harper chief of staff, Nigel Wright, personally cut a cheque to pay back Duffy’s $90,000 in ineligible expenses.
Walking away from reporters, Tkachuk said, “Come on you guys, a guy has to go home. I’m going home for the weekend. Can’t I do that?”
Tkachuk later confirmed he’s going back to his home in Saskatoon.
“That’s what I’m going to do this weekend. I’m going to try to get in a game of golf, I’m going to visit with my wife, I may phone my kids.”