Coun. Magliocca apologizes as council votes to audit his expenses since 2017

Calgary city council voted Monday to audit the expenses of Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca going back to 2017. The councillor issued a public apology before the vote, saying "taxpayers deserve better and I am deeply sorry."

'Taxpayers deserve better and I am deeply sorry,' Ward 2 rep says in statement

Coun. Joe Magliocca says he made mistakes on his expense claims from a conference in Quebec City last year. (CBC)

Calgary city council voted Monday to approve a forensic investigation of Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca's expenses, dating back to 2017. 

The vote was 14-0. Magliocca excused himself from the meeting, citing a pecuniary interest.

The investigation will look at all of council's expenses, and will recommend changes to policies for greater oversight and transparency in reporting expenses.

The council move comes after it was discovered the Ward 2 representative made what he called "errors" on his expense claims for a conference in Quebec City last year. 

The councillor expensed $6,400 — about double that of his colleagues — during a trip to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference last spring, the Calgary Herald first reported.

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

The special investigation had to be authorized by council as its usual investigator, the integrity commissioner, recused himself from looking into a complaint filed about Magliocca's expenses.

Sal LoVecchio and Magliocca went for lunch last year. When LoVecchio found out Magliocca had claimed the lunch as a council expense, he said he couldn't look into the complaint against Magliocca. 

Magliocca apologizes

Magliocca said in a statement Monday morning he fully supports another look into his expenses to ensure they are in line.

"Taxpayers deserve better and I am deeply sorry. I have since personally paid back all alcohol and hosting expenses that I incurred during this convention," he said. 

As well, the councillor wrote that he's voluntarily repaid any alcohol-related expenses since the 2017 election and has since posted all expenditure receipts online.

Those receipts reveal Magliocca paid back the city $897.61 on Feb. 3 and $1,205.31 on Feb. 11 for alcohol-related expenses in 2018.

When added to his FCM expenses from last year, it means Magliocca has repaid more than $3,900 to the city.

"I challenge all city council members and the mayor to be fully transparent of all expenses going back to the 2017 election as well.… That is why I have requested all of my expenditure receipts from 2017 to today from city administration."

He said the controversy has taken a toll on his personal life.

"This has been a very embarrassing mistake I have made," Magliocca said.

Nenshi confident city will get to the bottom of it

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's confident the city will get to the bottom of the matter.

"Ultimately, we know what happened at FCM, and what we need to do is make, is have a ruling on whether or not those actions violated our code of conduct and what sanctions are appropriate," Nenshi said. 

"But we already know about the FCM stuff. So the question is: Is there anything else? Ultimately, council said for that councillor, we need to see if there's a pattern of behaviour here."

When asked if Magliocca should resign, the mayor said he will wait until the investigation is complete.

"As a politician, you've got to look in your own heart and say, 'can I still serve the citizens who elected me in an effective way? Can I still serve them in an ethical way going forward?' And that's a question we should all be asking ourselves."

The city auditor will oversee the investigation.

In addition to there being a forensic investigation of Magliocca's expenses, she will also do a review of council's expenses since the 2017 election to look for any irregularities. 

She will also make recommendations on ways to improve the public reporting of expenses and to bring about greater accountability on the approval of work-related expenses.

Kathy Palmer told council she could not estimate the cost of the work or how long it will take to complete. She has not yet decided if all of the work will be done internally or if an external consultant will have to be hired.


With files from Scott Dippel