The forensic audit into councillor Joe Magliocca’s expenses that found thousands of dollars in ineligible expenses deemed ineligible will cost city taxpayers nearly $64,000.
The probe conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), brought to light $5,657 in questionable expenses claimed by Magliocca for hotel rooms, meals, and other costs over the last two years.
The investigation also found $8,866.78 in costs for expense claims related to several occasions in which Magliocca upgraded his seat to business class or premium on business flights. The report recommended the city has look into these costs further.
The Councillor representing Ward 2 has voluntarily repaid $6,220.66 to the city.
According to city administration, the forensic audit came with a cost of $63,820.00.
“I really do not like the fact that we had to spend that money, we could’ve spent that money on services that people really need,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said Friday. “If the actions that had to cause a forensic audit to be called had never happened, we wouldn’t have had to spend the money.”
Nenshi added that Calgarians have the right to be displeased with the amount of money spent on the probe, but said that he hopes residents are more upset by the actions that prompted the investigation.
“It’s not so much the spending of the money I think that they should be upset about,” Nenshi said. “I think folks have every right to be upset about the misuse of taxpayers dollars that led to that.”
Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, acknowledged the heightened cost of the investigation came at an economically challenging time for Calgarians, but said the audit was necessary.
“For many people in Calgary, that could be their annual salary,” Terrazzano said. “But when you find a councillor with their hands in the cookie jar, you have to hold them accountable and an investigation was needed.”
The forensic audit was prompted by a Postmedia investigation into Magliocca’s expenses at last year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City, which showed he expensed far more than any other councillor.
The findings of the investigation, originally handed over to Calgary Police, have been forwarded to RCMP to look into further.
Letter of Reprimand
The mayor’s office has also released a letter of reprimand written by Nenshi to Magliocca in which the mayor said Calgarians “deserve better.”
“To be frank, the citizens of Calgary deserve better than this,” Nenshi wrote in the letter. “I hope you have learned from your actions and that you will respond in a way that shows an understanding of the seriousness of what you have done.”
Nenshi said in the letter that despite the dollar amount, Magliocca’s actions showed a repeated pattern of behaviour that disrespected the money and trust of Calgarians.
“You have made many decisions on Council citing that the cost to taxpayers, and that cost alone, is too high for your liking. All of the money we spend in our role as Members of Council, whether it’s by Council direction or an allowable recoverable expense, deserves that same respect.”
Nenshi said he has not yet heard from Magliocca.
The letter of reprimand is one of several sanctions council voted to impose on Magliocca following the release of the audits findings.
According to council’s vote, Magliocca must also make a public apology; it would be his third apology this year linked to irregularities stemming from his expenses.
Magliocca has also been ordered to attend training on council expense policies and faces a ban to expense business travel until the end of his term in late 2021.
“I felt super bad I misrepresented the people, you know being a politician and I didn’t want to bring anyone under the bus and it was my mistake and I wanted to pay it back and that was it,” Magliocca said to investigators during the audit.
Councillor Magliocca has not returned Global News’ requests for comment.