Wallin’s final travel tab a whopper
OTTAWA—Sen. Pamela Wallin’s final bill is in—and it’s a whopper.
The embattled Saskatchewan senator and former Conservative caucus member was informed yesterday that she’ll have to reimburse the Senate a grand total of $138,970 for ineligible travel expense claims.
The auditors advised another $21,000 in questionable claims should be reviewed by the Senate’s internal economy committee.
Those claims involved travel to what the self-described “activist senator” deemed “networking events” and other special events, including speeches.
The committee concluded yesterday that Wallin should pay back most of those additional claims, worth $17,622.
The decision comes as no surprise. Last week’s audit report noted that the internal economy committee’s steering committee already had reviewed Wallin’s travel claims for so-called networking events, and had concluded that “while occasional exceptional occurrences for special events might be acceptable, the volume and pattern of the events listed [by Wallin] would not qualify them as Senate business.”
The audit report, which looked at Wallin’s claims dating back to 2009, listed 13 networking events, which Wallin had described as primarily lunch or dinner meetings with unidentified representatives of the business, arts, and charitable communities.
She also claimed expenses for attending a private dinner party in an individual’s home, which “included senior members of the business and legal community” who discussed “a full range of issues.”
And she claimed for attending a reception in a private home for an “internationally-known individual . . . historian, essayist, former dissident, public intellectual, and editor of a newspaper” who had been involved in Poland’s Solidarity movement.
Wallin already has reimbursed the Senate for $38,000 in ineligible travel claims and has promised to repay the rest once ordered to do so by the Senate—despite her insistence that the audit was “fundamentally flawed and unfair.”
The Senate committee last week alerted the RCMP—which already is investigating ineligible living allowances claimed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Mac Harb—to the conclusions of the Wallin audit.