Calgary council members ask city auditor to investigate Magliocca's expenses

An urgent notice of motion has been introduced at city hall to have the city auditor oversee an investigation of Coun. Joe Magliocca's expense claims.

The city's integrity commissioner, Sal LoVecchio, recused himself from an investigation into Magliocca's expenses, having realized the councillor had expensed a meal the two men shared, without LoVecchio's knowledge.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek says there needs to be a "plan B" when such a situation happens.

"With this recusal, it flagged for us that there's a gap in the system. If the integrity commissioner recuses himself or herself, who do we have as backup? And so, that's why we've asked the city auditor to oversee some type of forensic investigation, because they really have the expertise to do that well," she said.

The motion, which is co-sponsored by Magliocca himself, along with other councillors, will go before council Feb. 24.

Magliocca has been under fire since it was revealed that he had expensed $6,400 — about double that of his colleagues — during a trip to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City last spring, the Calgary Herald first reported.

His expense claims include meals and alcohol he said were purchased for politicians he said he met with, but some of those politicians deny those meetings ever took place. 

As the city's integrity watchdog, LoVecchio is tasked with investigating and adjudicating ethics matters related to city council — formal complaints can be made online, or by email, mail or phone.

Scott Dippel/CBC

In August 2019, Magliocca expensed $163 for a meeting with LoVecchio at Franca's Italian Specialties, a restaurant in northeast Calgary.

LoVecchio said he keeps a detailed diary of appointments, and did have lunch at Franca's with the councillor on July 19, 2019 — not August, as Magliocca's claim states. 

He added that the lunch was purely social and not part of any investigation.

He said Magliocca offered to pay for the lunch and it was only this week that he realized that instead of being personally paid for by the councillor, the lunch had been expensed and reimbursed to the councillor.

Gondek's motion also calls on the city manager's office to work with the auditor to "determine a better governance model for council oversight."

The motion also calls for council to have a "confidential conversation with the integrity commissioner as soon as possible" to discuss what was his rationale for publicly announcing his recusal from the matter earlier this week.