P.E.I. auditor general considers audit of MLA expense fund

Teresa Wright
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Auditor General Jane MacAdam

P.E.I.’s auditor general says she is considering looking into spending by the government backbench and Opposition offices, which includes a so-called slush fund available for MLA expenses.

Jane MacAdam says an audit of the Liberal and Progressive Conservative caucus offices is not currently on her planned audit schedule, but she is aware of the public discussions on the issue and this could change her plans.

“I will consider it,” MacAdam said.

A Guardian investigation revealed last week that P.E.I. taxpayers paid a former Opposition chief of staff more than $18,000 seven months after he had been laid off from the Opposition office in 2013 and after he had collected four months of severance pay.

RELATED: Guardian learns Olive Crane used taxpayers money to pay for zero work

The money came from a so-called slush fund money granted to the Liberal, Tory and Green party backbench offices to help run their daily affairs.

Money from this fund is also used by MLAs for expenses, such as mileage, donations to charities and fundraising tickets.

PC MLAs can access $200 a month while Liberal backbenchers get $300 per month for expenses. They are not required to submit receipts.

RELATED: P.E.I. MLAs have expense funds not open to public scrutiny

This year, the government and Opposition offices were each given $120,400 in operating grants, not including salaries for office staff, which come from a separate salary account.

Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker has begun posting a full breakdown of money spent from his office’s operating grant of $20,000, listing everything from bank fees to postage stamps.

But unless they voluntarily choose to release this information, as Bevan-Baker has done, spending within the caucus offices is out of reach from the public eye.

Records from all offices of the legislative assembly are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

An accounting of this money must be presented to the province’s legislative management committee every year.

But the caucus operating grants are not audited.

MacAdam says some of the information that has come to light about spending in these offices was new to her.

“Up until this point I didn’t have a lot of information on how the system worked, so it’s new information to me… in terms of the reports that are prepared,” she said.

“I’m not familiar with that because we’ve never done any stand-alone work on the legislative assembly.”

Currently, MacAdam and her staff have their hands full preparing the 2016 annual report as well as continuing to work on a special audit into the controversial e-gaming file, requested last year by the premier.

But once that work is complete, MacAdam says she would consider delving into MLA expenses and office spending.

“I would make a decision in the coming months,” she said.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

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Recent comments

  • guardianreader
    January 16, 2016 - 15:37

    This need to be looked into my concern is MLAs getting paid and holding down second Jobs, Example Sony Gallant MLA Deputy Speaker working full time construction at cooks Corner store , Hire some one you have a job go see your constituants, The Same Goes for Pat Murphy spends a lot time managing his personal Buisness give it up men this is not fair to people whom elected you to work for them,

  • Chris
    January 16, 2016 - 13:13

    The response to this siutaiton would be for the only honest MLA Bevan Baker to introduce a motion at the net sitting of the House to do away with this slush fund, and for it not to be replaced with anything else. The rest of the MLAs including the Premier would embarrass themselves if they did not support such a motion, and give us all reason to withhold out vote for them in the next election. It is about time Islanders stood up for themselves and demanded democratic operations in tune with 2016 .

  • Gerard Walsh
    January 16, 2016 - 11:44

    Why consider doing audit????? Just do it.

  • no thanks
    January 16, 2016 - 05:34

    she just does not understand that this position is useless -- she can audit all she wants to and there will be no consequences !! This positions is a waste of taxpayers money - Never in the last 50 years has an auditor general on PEI made a substantial improvement to the financial operations of arrogant poltical types

  • martin
    January 15, 2016 - 18:02

    Jane might get around to audit these acconts after the next election. She doesn't have the resources to cover everything on her plate. She was appointed by the Legislated Assembly and it takes a high percentage of LA to relieve her of her duties.That will not happy.

  • Islander
    January 15, 2016 - 10:38

    From all accounts Jane MacAdam you are a women of honesty and intigrity. We the taxpayers are depending on you to do the right thing and audit these expenses. Hard working Islanders see this as an opportunity to see just what is going on in terms of taxpeyers money being spent. It does seem more and more of this stuff is popping up since this new Government took over,.

  • Silly Question
    January 15, 2016 - 10:08

    Silly question: why does this employee of the legislature think she has the legal authority to audit our supreme house of democracy (AKA: her boss)? If she asks for receipts and MLAs ignore her, what's she going to do? Anything she does to publicly criticize the Legislature could be construed as contempt of the house.

  • Icing
    January 15, 2016 - 09:22

    PBB has a rather novel approach. Honesty is the best policy, except if your an Island Liberal that is.

  • Mrs. Mcgillicuddy
    January 15, 2016 - 09:07

    and why now would you even have to consider that, because you told not to?

  • Bernadette Mulligan, Kinkora, PE
    January 15, 2016 - 08:09

    Auditor General, Jane MacAdam, said she would make a decision !!! How about we taxpayers make a decision ??? Do the Audit, now !!! Just remember, Jane, You work for us !!!

    • no thanks
      January 16, 2016 - 10:19

      she is there because of wade wade