Disgraced Senator Mike Duffy was reimbursed for more than $23,000 in travel expenses between Ottawa and Prince Edward Island during a six month period after an audit of his spending was completed.
The claims were repaid between June 1 and Nov. 30, 2013 and appear to be in keeping with the Senate's rules on travel expenses, according to guidelines that are posted online. Mr. Duffy stopped collecting living expenses from the Red Chamber in June, after a Senate committee determined that he does not qualify for a housing allowance offered to senators whose primary residence is located more than 100 kilometres from Parliament Hill.
Mr. Duffy had claimed that his primary residence was in Cavendish, PEI, even though he lived and worked in the Ottawa area for decades. An external audit found that he spent a majority of his time at his Ottawa residence, eventually leading the Senate to determine that his Ottawa living expenses should not have been reimbursed.
The PEI Senator repaid more than $90,000 in living expenses before the audit was completed using money that was given to him by the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright. Mr. Wright left the Prime Minister's Office in May after the financial transaction was made public and the RCMP is now investigating the matter.
Mr. Duffy is one of three senators who were suspended without pay this fall over allegations that each claimed tens of thousands of dollars in improper expenses. The suspensions will last until the end of the current Parliamentary session, likely in 2015. A fourth senator, former Liberal Mac Harb, resigned earlier this year, before the Red Chamber voted on the suspensions.
All three of the suspended senators – Mr. Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau – were appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.
Ms. Wallin reduced her travel expenses significantly during the three months after an external audit of her claims was completed. Between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2013, she claimed just over $6,000 on trips between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, the province she represents, and $872 on other travel. By comparison, she claimed more than $43,000 in other travel during the same three-month period in 2012.
Mr. Brazeau did not make any travel expense claims but was reimbursed for more than $53,000 in office expenses according to a report posted by the Senate – significantly more than the approximately $29,000 he claimed during the same period last year.