Where exactly was Mike Duffy?

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Senate expense probe becomes a moving target

Senator Mike Duffy, right, was in New Minas, Nova Scotia, April 20, 2011, campaigning with Kings-Hants Conservative candidate David Morse. Also pictures are former candidate Bob Mullen, far left, and volunteer Bernie Kleinpaste.

OTTAWA — What began as a probe into Senator Mike Duffy’s primary residence has morphed this week into something much more explosive.

The issue now is not just whether Duffy lived most of the time in Prince Edward Island or Ottawa, but that he was allegedly misrepresenting his whereabouts to line his own pockets with taxpayers’ money.

Senate officials took an independent audit completed earlier this month that included Duffy’s cellphone records and used it to cross-reference living expense claims made by Duffy. They were able to pinpoint 49 days when the senator claimed Ottawa living expenses when he was apparently not in the national capital region.

Duffy signed all the paperwork when he submitted the claims. A daily living expense for Ottawa ranged between $86.35 and $88.60.

Here are some of the details of what officials found:

— Duffy claimed and was paid for Ottawa living expenses during the federal election campaign on six days in April 2011 and one day in May 2011. Elections Canada documents show Duffy was not in Ottawa, but campaigning in Western Canada, the Toronto area and in Atlantic Canada with Conservative candidates.

— In August 2011, Duffy claimed 18 days of Ottawa living expenses when he appeared to be in Charlottetown, P.E.I.. Senate administrators turned down that request.

— Duffy was in Florida for 17 days in January 2012, but claimed living expenses in Ottawa over 13 of those days. Duffy told auditors that was a “clerical” error and blamed a temporary worker. But Senate officials say it was his regular staffer who filled out the documents.

— On June 6, Sept. 1, 2, 9, 12, 13 and Oct. 3, 2011, and March 23, 2012, Duffy claimed Ottawa living expenses while he was apparently in P.E.I. He was paid for some of those days.

— On May 25, Sept. 21 and Oct. 6, 2011, Duffy claimed Ottawa living expenses while he was travelling elsewhere in the country. He was paid for some of those days.

“If people want to be dishonest or people want to cheat, they’ll find a way,” said Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk, chairman of the committee that’s been studying the expenses issue.

“It happens in all businesses, all institutions, all corporations, it has happened in the House of Commons.”

The question of whether Duffy was also misrepresenting his travel expenses remains unresolved, and the Senate does not appear to be delving into that file. Officials did not verify if Duffy was actually performing Senate business when he claimed he was doing so outside Ottawa.

Senate finance director Nicole Proulx noted one instance during the last federal election when Duffy claimed meals and incidentals under his travel expenses, saying he had flown from Moncton to Ottawa. On that day, April 21, he had campaigned in Nova Scotia, but returned a rental car at 2:12 p.m. in Charlottetown.

Duffy never met with auditors from the firm Deloitte, and failed to produce several pieces of documentation they requested. Deloitte emphasized in its report to the Senate in early May that while auditors were able to track Duffy’s movements with the help of cellphone records, they couldn’t be sure which days he was claiming per diems.

It’s not clear why Senate finance officials did not do the cross-referencing with their files immediately after the audit was completed.

Instead, the Conservative government declared the Duffy matter closed, emphasizing that the senator had paid back the $90,000 in living expenses he had claimed. Tory senators also redacted a report into Duffy’s expenses, making it gentler than two otherwise virtually identical reports into senators Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau.

After it emerged that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright had helped Duffy pay the $90,000, and after The Canadian Press reported Duffy had been campaigning while claiming to be on Senate business, Duffy resigned from the caucus and the matter was sent back for further study.

The Senate’s internal economy committee voted late Tuesday to refer the matter of Duffy’s expenses to the RCMP.

Organizations: Elections Canada, House of Commons, Canadian Press RCMP

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. Western Canada Toronto Atlantic Canada Charlottetown Florida Moncton Nova Scotia

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  • AMAZED
    May 31, 2013 - 02:17

    The PEI version of the childrens book Wheres Waldo . What a joke ,I know at least one person locally who got 6 months in jail for defrauding EI and yes he paid it all back and more ! The whole Tory Party should be facing jail time not just Duff .

  • SG
    May 30, 2013 - 09:40

    Where exactly was Mike Duffy? Good Question. Doesn't MIKE know the answer? Hopefully Mike will Step Down from the Senate and the question won't have to be asked again. After seeing the Senate's Salaries and Expenses on line, in print.and hearing the NDP Leader Thomas MulClair stating that the Senate Salaries are $One Hundred Million, I have to agree with the NDP Leader Thomas Mulclair that the UNELECTED Senate needs to be ABOLISHED! Just imagine the many Needed Health Programs, Specialists, Doctors, State of the Art Hospital Equipment, Nursing and Senior Facilities, Medications, Food and Shelter that could be provided for Canadians for $100 Million !! Unbelievable!

  • Quiet Observer
    May 30, 2013 - 09:16

    I don't for one minute think that Duffy is the only Senator who did these things. I think if you look at all Senators expense claims you will find the same kinds of things. This does not excuse Duffy. I think that ALL Senators should have their expense claims looked at the same way Duffy's have. I don not think it is fair to Canadians to only look at a few senators. I think Canadians are owed to have all Senators looked at for the last 10 years, and not by Senators on a Committee, but by a real auditor.

    • Chris S
      May 30, 2013 - 11:26

      I see that people have missed the point of the Duffy scandal entirely. For starters the Senate did look at all senators. They required residence and expenditure information and then ordered forensic audits on people with inconsistencies. The vast majority of Senators had clean records. Further, this is much bigger than just an expense issue. The PMO Chief of Staff secretly gave Duffy the money, Duffy emails suggest he was ordered to 'remain quiet', Duffy avoided participation in the audit, the Senate committee removed (or white-washed) all the damaging wording from his audit, the PM may have known about the whole thing given the inconsistent nature of his comments. Passing this off as a guy who 'repaid the money' or as a problem with all senators just doesn't cut it.

  • Fed up
    May 30, 2013 - 09:15

    People have always said elections are won by our Guardian and CBC. They are proven right with all this Duffy propaganda. At least he paid govt back! Where is the Liberal who claimed the same but no one mentions. GET A LIFE and MOVE ON As above...there must be some other news on PEI?!!?!?

  • Lauren
    May 30, 2013 - 08:51

    FIRE HIM & PROSECUTE HIM. If this were any other business and he were stealing the money, he would have been fired and facing charges long ago. This is just another example of the Canadian people being put aside for the Conservative party & their friend's gain.

  • bob from cardigan
    May 30, 2013 - 08:45

    I concur with Don. Is there nothing else to discuss in the news other than a few thousand dollars robbed by a Senator? Audit them all and I think you will find that each has been guilty of over expensive. Audit all politicians and you will see the same thing. Can someone say SCAPEGOAT?

  • a man of his word
    May 30, 2013 - 07:37

    Mike Duffy is a "man of his word." He said so himself.

  • don
    May 30, 2013 - 07:23

    is there not more important things in canada then this? i would like to see an audit done on ALL members of the house and Senators for the past 10 years. i am sure we will find a lot of money being paid back. remember back to 2011 and wayne easter repay $8,050.26 in public funds after incorrectly claiming expenses on a secondary residence between August 2007 and July 2010.. but ask yourself this after all the years in ottawa and he screws up. i think they need to go back farther in his papers. but the gal of wayne to dump on duffy when he SCREWED UP to me that is a disgrace. And i use to like the radio station but no more they go after duffy but why not other members like the liberals hat took money from us?

  • Giventhechance-theywillallrobus
    May 30, 2013 - 06:40

    Is anyone at all surprised... We have been getting robbed silly by every possible politician in every possible way. It doesnt matter who we elect or vote in at any level any more they all just want a fat cats pay check even if it means taken from much needed funding for people with much less who need it much more. There is a reason i refuse to vote and it's simple... why do i care who steals from me next? They all do the same thing put on a nice little show before they are elected then its right to the buisness of being crooks!! Personally i see why people hate the goverment to extremes.

  • waldorf
    May 30, 2013 - 05:31

    STEV HARPER SHOULD RESIGN, HE HIRED THIS BAND OF THIEVES

  • be yourself
    May 29, 2013 - 20:46

    ....Its simple you idiots, be HONEST and TRUTHFUL, plus its easier. Plus nobody ever went to jail for acting honestly and truthful.... Enjoy the food in jail Duff...