Patrick Brown spent nearly $300K on his MPP office in 2 months, documents reveal

Former PC leader Patrick Brown blew through more than $290,000 in office expenses in the final weeks before the June provincial election, according to a document obtained by CBC News.

Former PC leader, now running for mayor of Brampton, doubled his staff for his final weeks at Queen's Park

Documents obtained by CBC News show Patrick Brown doubled his staff shortly after the new fiscal year began on April 1, just weeks before his term as MPP ended, and spent more than $290,000 on staffing and expenses since then. (CBC)

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown blew through more than $290,000 on office staff and expenses in the final weeks before the June provincial election, according to documents obtained by CBC News. 

A list of expenses for 21 MPPs who were not re-elected in June shows Brown spent $292,451 in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Since the fiscal year began April 1 and Brown's term as MPP ended with the June 7 election, that means he spent the amount in little over two months. 

By contrast, Brown's MPP office staffing and expense costs in the full fiscal year of 2016-17 were $275,441.

Brown's spending since April was vastly higher than the other 20 MPPs on the list.  

The next-biggest spender was Liberal Yvan Baker, the former MPP for Etobicoke Centre, whose staffing and expense totals reached $124,766. On average, each departing MPP other than Brown spent $78,450 after April 1.

Patrick Brown is running for mayor of Brampton in next Monday's municipal election. (Michael Cole/CBC)

The document obtained by CBC News only lists the expenses of departing MPPs whose last names start with the letters A through F. Therefore it does not show the expenses of such departing MPPs as Julia Munro, who chose not to seek re-election after 23 years representing York Simcoe for the PCs, or Liberal Monte Kwinter, who had been in office since 1985.   

Each MPP gets an annual office budget of about $300,000, with some allowance for geographically spread-out ridings. Brown's spending in April and May equates to an entire year's budget.

"All my staff were legally and morally entitled to severance in my transition from leader of the Official Opposition to MPP to stepping down at the last general election," Brown said in a text to CBC News. "They were paid by the Ontario Legislature in accordance with the policy regarding severance for staff of departing MPPs and cabinet ministers."

Brown did not reply to a follow-up question about why severance pay for staff terminated from his leader's office during the 2017-18 fiscal year would have any impact of his MPP office budget in 2018-19. 

CBC has obtained another document that shows Brown doubled his MPP office staff immediately after April 1. He had five people on staff at the time, then used his office budget for the new fiscal year to hire five more people on contracts running until election day. Four of the contracted employees were paid at the rate of about $5,000 a month. 

Brown spent more than $9,200 on events in the first week of May, the final days before the election campaign period began. He billed two events as open houses in different parts of his riding and another as a "Thank You for the Honour of Serving Simcoe North" event. These expenses are disclosed here on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website. 

Brown is running for mayor in Brampton against the incumbent Linda Jeffrey in a race that has captured attention, in large part because of Brown's re-entry into politics after his ouster as PC leader earlier this year. 

About the Author

Mike Crawley

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Mike Crawley is provincial affairs reporter in Ontario for CBC News. He has won awards for his reporting on the eHealth spending scandal and flaws in Ontario's welfare-payment computer system. Before joining the CBC in 2005, Mike filed stories from 19 countries in Africa as a freelance journalist and worked as a newspaper reporter in B.C. Follow him on Twitter @CBCQueensPark