A friend of Mike Duffy was paid $65,000 by his Senate office for "little or no apparent work," an RCMP investigator alleges in court documents filed today in Ottawa.
The RCMP are seeking banking information for Gerald Donohue, Duffy's friend, and Senator Patrick Brazeau. Both Duffy and Brazeau were named to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the end of 2008.
Duffy and Brazeau are under investigation for fraud and breach of trust over their Senate expense claims, the RCMP say in the affidavits.
In the affidavit pertaining to Duffy, Cpl. Greg Horton says he believes Duffy "hired a friend as a consultant over an approximate four-year period, and paid him a total of approximately $65,000 during that time, for little or no apparent work."
The money came out of Duffy's Senate office budget.
Horton said in the affidavit that Donohue, was interviewed by investigators "and acknowledged that he produced no tangible work product for Duffy."
- A timeline of the Duffy-Wright deal
- Senate expenses: What you need to know
- Who's who in the Senate expenses scandal
- 8 things revealed by the previous Duffy court documents
Donohue, a former technician who worked for CTV and CBC, told investigators that he did internet research and provided verbal advice to Duffy, Horton wrote. Donohue, who ended his career as a vice-president at Baton Broadcasting (which was acquired by CTV the year he retired), had never been a consultant before then.
Duffy said Tuesday that "it would be inappropriate for me to comment while these matters are being examined by the RCMP."
Neighbour thought Brazeau worked from home
Both Duffy and Brazeau have come under fire over housing allowances they claimed for Ottawa-area homes. Senators are allowed to claim living expenses if they have to have second residences within 100 kilometres of Ottawa, but Brazeau and Duffy lived in Ottawa before they were appointed to the Senate.
The affidavit in Brazeau's case makes it clear to what lengths investigators have tracked his residency, interviewing neighbours and gathering information about how much time he spent at his home in Gatineau compared with his home in Maniwaki.
Neighbours of the Gatineau home told investigators they thought it was his full-time residence, Horton wrote in the affidavit.
One neighbour in Gatineau "often saw Brazeau at the residence, and believed he may have worked from home because he was home so much," Horton alleges in the affidavit.
A spokeswoman for Brazeau declined to comment without having seen the specific allegations contained in the affidavit.
Where did the money go?
The documents show there might be more to the Duffy investigation than just his living allowance.
The RCMP need Donohue's banking records to prove where the $65,000 went, Horton wrote, because Donohue says he never saw any of it, and that it went to his business. The money was paid by cheque, the court documents state.
"The supporting documentation relating to the bank transactions will assist investigators in identifying where the money went after it was deposited, and who received the money if Donohue did not," Horton wrote.
Donohue told investigators that he was on disability and not permitted to earn income.
The affidavit also notes that Nigel Wright, who was Harper's chief of staff until he resigned over a report that he repaid $90,000 of Duffy's Senate expenses out of his own pocket, turned over hundreds of pages of emails to investigators on Aug. 21.
Wright also provided the RCMP with detailed calendars for Duffy from 2009 to December 2012. Horton says Duffy sent the calendars to Wright in February.
"Mary and I copied and redacted my 4 years of diaries; added a summary of my days in PEI, and pics [photos] of the cottage under construction etc. and sent it to Nigel by Purolator," Duffy wrote in a Feb. 20 email, according to Horton.
Duffy is apparently referring to his policy adviser, Mary McQuaid.
Horton says Wright turned over the information through his lawyer.
'Never funnelled any money back to Duffy'
Donohue's work is described in the affidavit, and in copies of invoices included in it, as "consulting/editorial services — research, speech writing & revisions."
Donohue was interviewed on Aug. 27, Horton says in the affidavit, and confirms he didn't do the work described in invoices filed with the Senate.
"Duffy or someone in the Senate prepared a broad job description, but [Donohue] didn't perform the duties described in it... Though his job description included speech writing, Donohue never did speech writing for Duffy, or any other kind of writing. He said Duffy has given him speeches to proofread," Horton wrote.
Donohue doesn't remember ever seeing Duffy's website, although one of his stated duties was to advise the senator on "webpage design and development."
"He never funnelled any of the money back to Duffy," Horton wrote in a summary of the interview.
Donohue declined to provide a sworn statement to investigators, Horton said. Donohue's wife, Gail, and son, Matt, were listed respectively as the president and director of his company, Maple Ridge Media, which had no employees. Both refused to speak to investigators, Horton said.
The RCMP also want to see banking information for the company, as well as two other bank accounts identified to companies.
"This data will provide account holder information of the person(s) who actually controlled and accessed these accounts," Horton wrote in the affidavit.
'Stinks to high heavens'
Other details contained in the affidavit:
- Duffy asked the Senate in November 2010 to backdate a contract by six months — to April — for Donohue. Senate Human Resources declined to do so.
- The Senate asked Duffy's office for more details about Donohue's work in November 2010. Duffy's office provided a revised statement of duties a month later, including media monitoring, writing birthday greetings and delivering advice "in a timely manner in a fast-changing media/political environment."
- Duffy would call Donohue "with a subject such as obesity, or being a Conservative, and he would do internet research on the topic and provide advice or an opinion."
- Donohue told investigators that he incorporated Maple Ridge Media when he retired in 1997, but never used it. Six years later, he had a home built from insulated concrete forms and started using the company to distribute ICF products. He later changed the name to Ottawa ICF. He sold the company in March 2012.
The current owner of Ottawa ICF is "not suspected of any involvement in any of the matters under investigation," Horton said in the affidavit.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said the situation "stinks to high heavens."
"What else are we going to find out? How is it possible that some guy who claims he runs a concrete form business gets paid $65,000 to prepare a website that he's never even seen? He seems to have no expertise [as a consultant] and the Senate pays this off," Angus said.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the investigations show the government "has lost control of both its ethics and its judgment."
"The prime minister chose people who were not worthy to sit in the highest house and then allowed them to behave in a way that is completely disrespectful of the trust that Canadians place in our parliamentarians," Trudeau said.
Police investigators and forensic accountants are reviewing the information already provided by the Senate, including housing declarations, travel expense claims and mobile phone bills, Horton said.
The lead forensic accountant is seconded to the RCMP by Public Works.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the RCMP are seeking bank records for Senator Mike Duffy. In fact, they are seeking bank records for his associate, Gerald Donohue.Oct 09, 2013 9:11 AM ET