Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fresh details on Duffy’s expense claims

OTTAWA—The RCMP alleges that Sen. Mike Duffy charged taxpayers for a personal trainer, a makeup artist and for the cost of personal travel to funerals and other ceremonies.
New court documents provide fresh details on 31 charges laid against Duffy last week, alleging five “inappropriate expense claims associated with personal attendance at funeral and related ceremonies.”

According to the documents, the claims were filed from June 2009 to Sept. 2012 and contain “false or misleading information.”
Duffy, a longtime CTV journalist until the Tories appointed him to the Senate in 2008, is also accused of fraudulently awarding a $65,000 contract to his longtime friend, Gerald Donohue.
That money was allegedly used to “facilitate” payments to three other people, including an Ottawa personal trainer and a self-employed makeup artist, according to the court filing. Donohue has already told investigators that he did “no tangible work” for the money.
Jacqueline Lambert, the makeup artist, said in an interview that she simply once did Duffy’s makeup for a Parliament Hill photo shoot as requested, and prepped him for professional headshots. Senators and MPs routinely reach out to makeup artists for such services, which usually cost about $300, she said.
“I made him look good for his Senate photos,” Lambert said.
The personal trainer did not reply to requests for an interview.
The RCMP announced last week it was charging Duffy with the 31 criminal counts related to his expense claims, accusing him of misspending more than $200,000.
The charges stem from the disgraced senator’s housing and travel expenses, and a $90,000 payment from Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Duffy has denied any criminal wrongdoing. Neither Duffy nor his lawyer, Donald Bayne, would comment on the new information, referring the news media to a statement released last week, when the RCMP first laid the charges.
The 68-year-old senator is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 16.
The NDP’s Peter Julian said Monday that as additional information surfaces about Duffy’s alleged crimes, it raises questions that reach all the way to Harper’s office. He says it’s time for the prime minister to “come clean.”
“As more of the details come out, Canadians are asking: ‘What does and what did the prime minister know, and when did he know it?’ That’s the question he’s yet to answer and he must answer.”
In April, the RCMP concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Wright. The prime minister had previously insisted Duffy repay his expenses, but the senator said he didn’t have the money.
Wright then stepped in and wrote a personal cheque for $90,000 to Duffy to help him cover his expenses.
The expense scandal has dogged the Harper government for more than a year. The next federal election is expected to be held in the fall of 2015, though Harper could call a spring vote.

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