Our Senatorial soap opera entered a new chapter on Tuesday.
Independent Sen. Patrick Brazeau informed the media that he’ll defy the Senate’s order to repay the $48,744 in living and travel expenses he fraudulently claimed from Canadian taxpayers.
“Senator Brazeau has fulfilled his obligations in forwarding all relevant documentation requested by the committee and auditors,” read the statement from Debby Simms, a policy adviser in the senator’s office.
Brazeau is currently on a forced leave of absence from the Senate after he was charged with assault and sexual assault in February.
Brazeau says he “will be seeking greater clarification and will explore all options to have this determination overturned by applying the current policies, rules and regulations pertaining to this matter.”
Last week, the Senate committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration ordered Brazeau to repay the funds after an independent audit by Deloitte concluded that he inappropriately claimed the allowances.
The Senate’s own internal review, conducted late last year, had “raised a number of questions” and “resulted in issues that merited an external third party review of the information. Your Subcommittee therefore referred the claims and related findings to Deloitte.”
As the the committee reported last week, the Deloitte review shows that the reviewers were “not able to assess the status of the primary residence declared by Senator Brazeau against existing regulations and guidelines.” The Senate insists that the forms relating to reimbursement of living and travel expenses, which Brazeau signed, are clear.
The rules are clear and Brazeau broke them. The Constitution stipulates that a senator should reside in the area they represent. And, senators can claim up to $22,000 in annual living expenses if their primary residence is 100 kilometers from Parliament Hill.
The Deloitte audit concluded that Brazeau’s primary residence during the period investigated – April 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 – was a rented home in Gatineau, Que., a short drive from Parliament Hill. It found that Brazeau spend only 10 percent “of the 549 days in the period of review at his declared primary residence of Maniwaki.”
Brazeau “inappropriately” grabbed the $48,744 by claiming his father’s Maniwaki, Que., home as his primary residence. This is… fraud.
Related: Senator Patrick Brazeau Must Go!
Brazeau also wants us to believe that he’s being treated unfairly. His statement said, “It remains unclear if all other sitting senators meet the primary residency indicators — which Senator Brazeau does — or if they were treated with the same scrutiny, rules, regulations and definitions.”
The Toronto Star reports, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright has been drawn into the Senate expenses scandal following a CTV report alleging he worked out a deal with Conservative Senator Mike Duffy. The report Tuesday night said Wright intervened to have Duffy reimburse $90,172 in secondary living expenses associated with his home in Kanata, Ont., while auditors from Deloitte were still examining his claims.”
In February, Harper made it clear he’d at all cost defend Senator Pamela Wallin, another Conservative whose expense claims have also been questioned.
Brazeau isn’t the only one showing the democratically-challenged Senate the political middle finger. Almost all of the senators fingered in the expense scandal have reacted with arrogance and a sense of entitlement common in corrupt developing countries.
The Globe and Mail reports, “Mr. Brazeau, a former Conservative who is now an Independent, is the second member to challenge an order by the Senate’s internal economy committee to return expense money. Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who was ordered to repay $51,482 and possibly much more, has hired a lawyer and is vowing a legal challenge. Conservative Senator Mike Duffy had previously repaid close to $90,000 in living expenses for which he will not be reimbursed.”
Download the Deloitte report: Examination of Senator Brazeau’s Primary and Secondary Residence Status (PDF)