Harper’s chief of staff personally bailed out embattled Sen. Mike Duffy

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Senator Mike Duffy. — Canadian Press photo

The Canadian Press — Ottawa

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff personally footed the $90,000 bill for embattled Sen. Mike Duffy’s improper housing expenses.

Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall says Duffy was unable to come up with the money following an external audit, so Harper’s right-hand man Nigel Wright stepped in.

“The government believes that taxpayers should not be on the hook for improper expense claims made by senators,” MacDougall said in a statement.

“Mr. Duffy agreed to repay the expenses because it was the right thing to do. However, Mr. Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment. Mr. Wright therefore wrote a cheque from his personal account for the full amount owing so that Mr. Duffy could repay the outstanding amount.”

A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Wright and Duffy are friends and that Wright offered the money as a gift rather than a loan.

Duffy had been experiencing financial difficulties, the source said.

The Prime Minister’s Office is emphasizing that Harper knew nothing of the arrangement and that no taxpayer money was used to cover the repayment.

Liberal Sen. Mac Harb and former Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau are fighting the Senate over tens of thousands of dollars in housing expenses they are being asked to repay.

The Conservative government has been highly critical of both Harb and Brazeau, while declaring the case closed on Duffy’s expenses. Last week, Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan said Duffy had shown “leadership” when he made the repayment.

The Senate is now refusing to reveal the full breakdown of Duffy’s expense claims, even after an outside audit firm noted they were unable to get a full picture of Duffy’s expenses.

Duffy failed to provide auditors at Deloitte with financial statements, credit-card bills, or information on where he was when he billed the taxpayer for daily expenses. He also did not meet with the auditors, despite requests.

By looking at Duffy’s Senate cellphone bills, Deloitte eventually turned up one unusual charge: daily expenses incurred while he was in Florida. Duffy’s office had listed him as being on Senate business, but Duffy called that a clerical error.


Organizations: Canadian Press

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Recent comments

  • Cindy
    May 19, 2013 - 18:24

    Why should Canadian Taxpayers be on the hook for Duffy's taxes ? If it were someone else the taxman would take their house and everything else.

    May 16, 2013 - 18:55

    things have changed MR Wright has paid Mike Duffy BILL but not the others senators so what is wrong here .Mike DUFFY WAS A REPORTER AND NOW HE IS A SENETOR so what does he have on our pm all you reporters out there need to start at the bottom and work your way up .there are a lot of gov employers that have lost there jobs and may want to talk off the record .you need to dig really deep .there are story to be told that the taxpayers of Canada want to know. do you think all our senators and mp and any anybody in government need to be investigated. something is really wrong when our government wants to sweep all this away what are they afraid of . we as taxpayers WANT to know what is going on in OUR GOVERMENT. SO I SAY AGAIN DIG REALY DEEP START AT THE BOTTON AND WORK YOUR WAY UP

  • marilyn
    May 16, 2013 - 11:22

    Just read something on the web that has me wondering .Mr. Wright was a lawyer making 2milloin a year and is now working for the fed government for 3hundred thousands. Makes you want wonder

  • Drill Deeper
    May 16, 2013 - 09:09

    Let's drill a little deeper shall we? If Wright wrote a cheque, exactly who is it payable to? Duffy, Con Party, or Exchequer? And, was there a recent deposit of similar amount into Wright's account? If so, by whom?

  • It is Shocking to learn how little auditing is done on our hard-earned Canadian Taxpayers' dollars spending by Federal Government.
    May 16, 2013 - 09:06

    The article in the url address below states the Canadian Auditor general reporting that there is " More than $3 billion in anti-terrorism funding unaccounted for." I am wondering if this kind of discrepancy in accounting is caused by a buildup of $90,000 payouts, for instance in this case to get a political colleagues out of financial debt and other similar payouts. In other words do payments like this one, we are concerned about get settled from unaccountable debts, like the $3 Billion Shortfall in the Anti-Terrorism Contract? I don't believe for one moment that friends will come up with $90,000 from their own personal accounts to pay for a friend's financial demise, without asking for the debt to be paid back at a later date, even if that means taking a lien out on something owned by the person that the monies were loaned to. http://www.canada.com/news/Auditor+general+More+than+billion+anti+terrorism+funding+unaccouAuditor general

  • marilyn
    May 16, 2013 - 08:54

    They say one apple doesn't spoil the barrel but it does leave a smell. You need to dig through the hole barrel looking for more rotten apples .is this why our senators and mp are worried. Will we find a lot of rotten apples the more we dig deeper and deeper.it makes to get rid of the bad apples to save the good ones

  • abby
    May 16, 2013 - 08:11

    Where was mr. wright when my daughter had to pay income tax on the few paltry dollars she made while trying to save for university Absolute scum and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Scott Free
    May 16, 2013 - 07:28

    If this is in fact what happened, then Duffy needs to be ousted from the Senate; Wright ought to be fired; and, Harper should prorogue himself and do the honourable thing, resign.

  • hua mulan
    May 16, 2013 - 05:51

    the list is being added to almost daily... in and out. contempt of Parliament by Himself. delmaestro. a 16$ glass of orange juice. a fake lake. tony's 50 million dollar slush fund our own poore peter. opening the paper, I ask what's after happening with the harperites now? Here it is : another wrong move, this time made by a Mr. Wright.... whoever said to herr harper, 'a plaque on both your houses' is surely seeing the effects of the curse.

  • Tex T
    May 15, 2013 - 17:38

    How much more can Canadians tolerate from this totally unnecessary, expensive and useless organization? Mr. Harper the senate has to go!!

  • General Auditor
    May 15, 2013 - 13:43

    So, does this mean that Mr. Wright will get a tax deduction by virtue of a gift to a political party? Wouldn't that be a real slap to the face of taxpayers?

  • Bean Counter
    May 15, 2013 - 13:39

    Me thinks Mr. Wright is making too much money; naw...this just don't pass the smell test.

  • Tony Rockel
    May 15, 2013 - 13:28

    This little piggy went "Oui! Oui! Oui!" all the way to the bank.

  • Rick Collins
    May 15, 2013 - 12:43

    Surely this is totally unacceptable to the majority of Canadian taxpayers! Yes, the PMO! The PMO emphasized that the PM never knew. We'll add that to the list of things Steven Harper does not know. The 'gift' vs 'loan' will keep the media busy while we wait for the election which can't come soon enough.

  • Anna
    May 15, 2013 - 12:34

    Do they really expect people to believe the Prime Minister's Office knew nothing of this arrangement? These guys are not allowed to go to the bathroom without being told it is ok. No wonder Duffy is always smiling, he is never held accountable for anything, I wonder will these guys write me a check for my income tax that I owe as I too am unable to make a timely repayment.