Nova Scotia

Hurlburt apologizes, repays generator costs

Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt has repaid taxpayers the full $8,000 for the generator he said he bought for local groups during emergencies but kept at home.

After first refusing, Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt has apologized and repaid taxpayers nearly $8,000 for the generator he said he bought for local groups but kept at home.

The Progressive Conservative said he reimbursed the Speaker's office on Thursday and will give the generator to a community group.

"I am sorry for expensing an item that I now know was not an appropriate claim based on the legislature's internal economy board regulations," Hurlburt said in a statement. "I regret how this has been perceived and have paid back the full amount."

The provincial auditor general cited the generator as an inappropriate personal expense in his report on MLA spending. Jacques Lapointe found that several politicians had filed "excessive and unreasonable" claims, partly due to inadequate spending controls.

Hurlburt was unapologetic Thursday morning.

He told reporters he bought the generator two years ago to assist local organizations — including a senior citizens' residence down the street from his home — in the event of a power outage. He said it had never been used for personal purposes and paid back the $3,000 installation fee last year.

But Hurlburt said he didn't have to reimburse the money for the generator itself because he followed all of the guidelines in place at the time.

When contacted by CBC News, residents of the senior citizens' complex said it was nice of Hurlburt to think of them, but they had never heard that a generator was available to them. They had their own machine installed last fall.

Streatch comes forward

Meanwhile, Hurlburt's former cabinet colleague, Judy Streatch has come forward to claim the $738 espresso machine listed in the report as an excessive expense.

Streatch, former MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's, said the machine is in storage. She's not sure whether she bought it during her time as minister of community services or as head of tourism.

"Certainly it was a legitimate claimed expense," she told CBC News on Friday. "By no means was it meant to exceed any legitimate claim being made. Some people rent coffee espresso machines. In our instance we chose to purchase it.

"Certainly there was no misrepresentation. My integrity is intact, as it has always been in my mind, and that's what's most important to me."

Streatch said she's waiting to hear from the Speaker's office whether she will be asked to pay for the machine.