No alarm bells ringing over Cape Breton MLAs’ expense claims
SYDNEY — Alfie MacLeod, who ranked second among 51 current and former Nova Scotia MLAs on a list of expensed constituency and equipment assets, said Thursday much of his $ 33,150 total went to setting up a constituency office in his Cape Breton West riding.
“ It was all approved,” he said Thursday.
“ I did not receive a call from the auditor general or the Speakers office on any of it. The office is here, it is a functional office. I don’t think it’s elaborate. If people are upset, that was never my intention. My intention was to have an office that would be accessible.”
MacLeod said he negotiated the best deal with the landlord that he could for the Howie Centre office which was the only suitable location he could find.
MLAs elected before 2006 would already have a constituency office and wouldn’t show those expenses in the audit inventory released Wednesday which covered the time from 2006 to 2009, said MacLeod.
Former PC MLA and cabinet minister Len Goucher, who represented Bedford-Birch Cove, led the list of expenses with a total of $ 38,694.
Legislature Speaker Charlie Parker released auditor general Jacques Lapointe’s full list of political expenses from constituency claims and including electronic technology from July 2006 to June 2009 Wednesday. Those expenses weren’t among the inappropriate and excessive ones that were noted in a report by the province’s auditor general last week. The Speaker later released the names of all politicians whose expenses were deemed inappropriate and excessive by the auditor general.
PC MLA Cecil Clarke in Cape Breton North, who had a total of $ 20,044 in expenses on the list of expensed assets, noted some of the purchases on his list occurred replacing aging computer equipment in the years covered by the audit.
Clarke said he didn’t receive any calls from the auditor general or Speaker’s office concerning the expenses.
“ I am more than happy to clarify any expenditure associated with capital or constituency claims in my office.”
Four Cape Breton MLAs were on a list of those who had received duplicate payments for items.
Clarke said he will repay $ 341 for duplicate payments for certificate paper, cards, three framed pictures and 36 mugs. He noted that he claimed the expenses twice through an accounting error and also tried to pay them twice but the transactions weren’t properly reflected in accounting procedures.
“ It was a mistake with the paper work,” he said.
Clarke noted he had to call the Speakers office to ask if there were any problems with his expenses before finding out about the duplicate payments. He also raised concerns that the Speaker was communicating with Premier Darrel Dexter on the issue but not with the other party leaders.
MacLeod said after contacting the Speakers office, he realized he mistakenly submitted bills twice for $ 197 for presentation folders and office cleaning, the duplicate payments happened through a clerical error and he has already repaid it minus several underpayments to him.
Liberal MLA Dave Wilson, who represents Glace Bay, didn’t know how he mistakenly twice claimed $ 185 for certificates and ads on placemats for a Glace Bay restaurant but planned to repay it as soon as he receives official notification.
Liberal MLA Michel Samson who represents Richmond, said he is ready to repay $ 177 he received twice for digital cable services and a computer anti-virus program but has to see the documents in his Halifax office to confirm the errors. He noted there were two instances of double payments among an estimated 450 claims he has made over the years covered by the audit.