Calgary

Calgary council still awaits apology from Ward 2's Joe Magliocca over improper expense claims

There has still been no comment from a Calgary city councillor more than a month after he was asked by his colleagues to publicly apologize for making improper expense claims.

'I hope he's just working on that letter,' says Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, left, says he continues to wait for Coun. Joe Magliocca, right, to write council a letter of apology to council for his improperly claimed expenses. (CBC)

There has still been no comment from a Calgary city councillor more than a month after he was asked by his colleagues to publicly apologize for making improper expense claims.

A forensic audit, completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and released in late July, found Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca improperly claimed more than $5,000 in the last two years and there were outstanding questions about another $10,000.

Magliocca was first elected in 2013 as councillor for the ward, 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.

As a result of what the audit found, council voted to issue a letter of reprimand to Magliocca, requesting he write a public letter of apology and take training on proper city procedures. 

Magliocca has also been banned from claiming any travel expenses for the coming year.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he recently sent Magliocca a letter "highlighting why council unanimously felt that his actions were beyond the pale and unacceptable actions and reminding him that council has requested a public apology from him."

"To be honest, I have not heard one word from him since council passed that resolution and so I hope he's just working on that letter," Nenshi said.

The forensic report found that of $36,687 claimed by the Ward 2 councillor between October 2017, the start of his current term in office, and March when the report was commenced, $20,782 of his claimed expenses followed the proper policies and procedures.

Read the report into Coun. Joe Magliocca's expense claims. The article continues below. 

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But $5,657 was improperly claimed and another $10,247 from seven upgraded flights would need to be reviewed by council's priorities and finance committee.

Magliocca has voluntarily repaid $6,200 to the city.

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.

Magliocca has not commented publicly on the situation.

The audit report has been referred to the RCMP for investigation.

When the audit was released in July, Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said it  highlights two major issues: the upgrading of flights, hotel rooms, and car rentals; and carelessness, in misrepresenting meetings and not filing receipts.

Bratt said Magliocca represents himself as a fiscal conservative, at least when it comes to city spending.

"He keeps talking about the need to protect the public dollar … when it comes to swimming pools or transit he's big on protecting the purse. When he's travelling to Quebec City or Halifax, not so much," he said in July. 

The next municipal election will be held in October 2021.

With files from Scott Dippel

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