Calgary

Investigation into Coun. Magliocca's expenses cost nearly $64K

Calgary taxpayers are paying nearly $64,000 for an investigation ordered by city council that found Coun. Joe Magliocca improperly claimed $5,657 in expenses and raised questions about another $10,247.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi also released letter of reprimand that he recently sent to Ward 2 councillor

An audit into expense claims filed by Coun. Joe Magliocca cost nearly $64,000, according to the city. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary taxpayers are paying nearly $64,000 for an investigation ordered by city council that found Coun. Joe Magliocca improperly claimed $5,657 in expenses and raised questions about another $10,247.

The forensic audit done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) determined Magliocca improperly claimed $5,657 over the last two years and that there are outstanding questions about another $10,247 related to air travel upgrades.

Magliocca has voluntarily repaid the city a total of $6,220.

Magliocca was first elected in 2013 as councillor for Ward 2, which includes the communities of Arbour Lake, Hawkwood, Citadel, Ranchlands, Hamptons, Sherwood, Nolan Hill, Sage Hill, Kincora, Royal Oak and Evanston. He was re-elected in 2017.

The audit found there was a pattern of behaviour in his expense claims that the mayor said showed a "real disregard for the rules."

But getting those answers came with a price.

The city tells CBC News that the cost of the audit, plus external legal advice on the matter, was $63,820.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said there's been no discussion by city council on whether any of that cost can be directed to Magliocca.

"Ultimately, you know, there is a cost of doing business here at the city and it's a shame," Nenshi said.

"That's money that we shouldn't have had to spend because we shouldn't have had to do it. Because the actions that led to the need for that audit shouldn't have happened."

In January, the Calgary Herald first reported that Magliocca expensed $6,400 — about double that of his colleagues — during a trip to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City the previous spring.

Those expense claims included meals and alcohol for meetings that some attendees he claimed he met with said never took place.

In fact, the investigation found 11 attendees he claimed he hosted said they were not in attendance. PwC also said there were "numerous" other attendees it was unable to contact to confirm if meetings had taken place. 

The city's integrity commissioner Sal LoVecchio would have been tasked with investigating and adjudicating the matter, but LoVecchio recused himself after he realized Magliocca expensed a $163 social lunch the pair shared, without LoVecchio's knowledge.

The investigation of Magliocca was handed to the city auditor, who hired PwC to conduct the forensic audit.

After council discussed the audit report's findings at a meeting in late July, Nenshi was asked if expenses from Magliocca's first term in office from 2013 to 2017 should also be examined.

He said that would only cost more money.

But the mayor tells CBC News it's possible that work may be completed by police, who now have the report.

"I know that this file is with the RCMP now and if they wanted to go digging further, well certainly we would make ourselves available to them for that," Nenshi said.

Reprimand letter released

The mayor has also released the letter of reprimand that he recently sent to Magliocca.

  • Read Mayor Naheed Nenshi's full letter of reprimand to Coun. Joe Magliocca at the bottom of this story

At the end of July, council voted unanimously to sanction Magliocca for his handling of his expense claims.

It requested the mayor send Magliocca a letter of reprimand and that Magliocca issue a public apology for his actions.

Council further said that the councillor must take training on city procedures and that he could not submit any claims for travel for the rest of the current term, which runs to October 2021.

In the letter of reprimand, Nenshi wrote that the audit found "a pattern of behaviour that continually disrespects the money and trust that have been placed in our care by the citizens of Calgary."

The mayor pointed out that Magliocca has repeatedly said that council must respect taxpayer dollars yet he disregarded that position with his expense claims.

Nenshi added that "the citizens of Calgary deserve better than this. I hope you have learned from your actions and that you will respond in a way that shows an understanding of the seriousness of what you have done."

Expert says mayor got political

Duane Bratt, a political studies professor at Mount Royal University, said Nenshi's letter has political overtones.

"It actually makes the comparison to respecting taxpayers' dollars and how Joe Magliocca has repeatedly said that and now he's doing this himself," said Bratt.

"I find it difficult to think that there wouldn't be some councillors who would object to this."

Bratt also pointed out that while council directed Nenshi to send a letter of reprimand on July 28, the letter didn't go out from the mayor's office until last week.

It was dated Aug. 26.

"Did this go through the legal department? Did this have to be vetted through council?" said Bratt.

"That might explain why it took a month. Or maybe it's just holidays."

Magliocca hasn't commented on the audit report and hasn't returned any requests for interviews about the situation.

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