Months after Senator Mike Duffy was acquitted of all 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, Senate officials want Duffy to pay back $16,955 in what they call ineligible expenses.
The clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy sent Duffy a letter spelling out why they think he 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,” Nicole Proulx’s June 8 letter reads.
Those expenses include $10,000 for the services of personal trainer Mike Croskery, $300 for a makeup artist, a $500 payment to one of Duffy’s office volunteers, Ashley Cain, in 2010 and $8 for personal photos.
The year-long trial heard Duffy paid for those expenses through companies run by his friend Gerald Donohue: Maple Ridge Media and Ottawa ICF.
Mounties charged the companies were actually slush funds which Duffy used to pay expenses he knew would not be covered by the Senate.
Each of the expenses being re-examined by the Senate were all ruled non-criminal by Ontario Superior Court judge Charles Vaillancourt.
Proulx says the Senate’s chief financial officer reviewed the expenses and “the conclusion was that if the information had been disclosed or known prior to procession contract or payment, the requests would have been considered non-compliant with applicable Senate Administrative Rules and policies”.
The Conservative-dominated Standing Committee on Internal Economy gave Duffy 10 days to defend himself.
“This post-judgement, post-penalty attempt to pursue the same expense matters is a further compounding of injustice upon injustice, and should be stopped,” responded Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne.
Bayne’s 15-page response details each expense in question, referring back to Justice Vaillancourt’s judgement where the judge wrote, “The recipients of the funds from Maple Ridge Media and Ottawa ICF met the criteria for Senate business”.
Vaillancourt ruled the expenses before the court all met the test of the Senate’s rules at the time.
Duffy’s lawyer points out the Senator’s nearly two-year suspension from the upper chamber lacked due process and resulted in the former journalist’s net loss of $155,876. According to Bayne, asking to repay $8 for personal photos “smacks of petty vindictiveness.”
No one from Senate administration was available for comment.
Duffy was one of the few senators excluded from the Auditor-General’s review of nearly every senator’s expenses.
Along with Duffy, Senators Mac Harb, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau were all under criminal investigation related to their expenses, so their expenses were never tested like others.
Their expenses were audited by private firm Deloitte but the four senators were not part of the Auditor-General of Canada’s two-year-long examination of Senate expenses.