Something tells me that we're going to be hearing a lot more about Senate controversies over the next several weeks.
CTV News is now reporting that Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin has paid back a "substantial" amount of money she expensed for travel expenses.
CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported two weeks ago that the Senate brought in an independent auditor to look at Wallin’s travel spending. At that time, Wallin said that “no offer of repayment was made or asked for.”
But an insider told Fife that Wallin struck a deal to pay back some money in claimed expenses before auditors were called in.
According to CTV, Wallin refused to answer questions about the story on Monday.
As reported by PostMedia News, Wallin is the Senate's biggest spender: between November 2011 and December 2012 her expenses totaled $369,593.62. During that period, her 'other travel' — travel outside of the senator’s province while on parliamentary duties — was a whopping $163,216, almost $70,000 more than anyone else.
The revelation that Wallin paid some of the money back comes just one day after the Toronto Star learned that, despite claiming that her primary residence is in Saskatchewan, she carries an Ontario health card.
A source confirmed Wallin, who represents the prairie province in the Senate, has a valid Ontario health card.
One of the conditions of having a health card is that Ontario must be the “primary place of residence,” according to the provincial health ministry.
Last Friday — in a mea-culpa of sorts — Conservative Senator Mike Duffy said that he would pay back his the taxpayer funded living allowance he received for claiming a primary residence on Prince Edward Island. He said he may have erred on Senate paperwork because of...ahem..."confusing" language.
The good news is that the two Tory senators are paying back at least some money.
The bad news, however, is that the two Tory senators continue to be coy and secretive about their residences and about how much money they're paying back?
Last week, Senate leadership committed to releasing the results of the audits into senator expense claims.
At this point, I think taxpayers deserve to know the details about Wallin and Duffy's paybacks: Are the senators paying their money back with interest? Are they being disciplined for their alleged maleficence?
This Senate shenanigans story is — invariably — to be continued.
(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)
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