Mike Duffy trial: Following the trail of cheques

Mike Duffy's friend Gerald Donohue doled out 31 cheques totalling $33,028.68 to 14 individuals or companies. That money came from Senate research contracts awarded to Donohue worth nearly $65,000 - and, so far, witnesses, court exhibits and RCMP documents have yet to make clear what happened to the rest of that money.
Suspended Senator Mike Duffy has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to expenses he claimed as a senator, and later repaid with money provided by the prime minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A review of all the payments made by Gerald Donohue for a number of services incurred by Mike Duffy reveals that the suspended senator's friend doled out 31 cheques totaling $33,028.68 to 14 different individuals or companies.

That money came from a series of Senate research contracts worth $64,916.50 awarded by Duffy to Donohue, mostly to perform editorial, research, consulting and speech-writing services. 

And the balance of that nearly $65,000? So far, witnesses, court exhibits and RCMP documents have yet to make clear what happened to the rest of that money — $31,887.82.

Over the first 17 days of the Duffy trial, Crown prosecutors have called a series of witnesses to testify, in part, that they received cheque payments from Donohue, through his family-owned company Maple Ridge Media Inc. (which later became Ottawa ICF). These payments were for services incurred by Duffy as a senator between and including the years 2009 and 2012, the trial has heard.

For example, the first cheque, paid through Maple Ridge Media, went to L. Ian Macdonald, a former speech writer for prime minister Brian Mulroney and currently a freelance writer and consultant. MacDonald was hired shortly after Duffy became a senator to write a speech that was titled "Why I am a Conservative."

The $7,350 MacDonald received for the speech was deposited on April 3, 2009. However, Donohue's first government cheque for his first contract with Duffy ($10,500) is dated April 22, 2009, meaning Donohue paid for this speech expense before he had received any money from his first Duffy-related contract.

Why Duffy got Donohue to pay any of these particular expenses using the $65,000 Donohue received in contract money has yet to be fully explained at the trial. Duffy's defence lawyer, Donald Bayne, has argued that while it was "administratively irregular" to not have these expenses paid out through Senate finance, the action certainly was not criminal.

Some witnesses have testified that invoicing Maple Ridge Media Inc. or Ottawa ICF ensured a faster payment than having to go through Senate finance.

However, it's the Crown's contention that Duffy set up a fund with Donohue to pay for some inappropriate or non-parliamentary services — expenses, the Crown believes, wouldn't have been covered by Senate finance. Some of these expenses have included payments for makeup, a personal fitness trainer and personal photos.

As for the editorial and consulting services that Donohue himself was contracted to perform — the RCMP has alleged that Donohue was paid "for little or no apparent work."

Donohue, the RCMP allege, was awarded contracts and paid "an inflated rate for the type of service purportedly provided."

Donohue himself has said, according to the RCMP documents, that he did not "produce any tangible document, report or work product," "never did speech writing" and "didn't perform the duties" described in his broad job description. 

Meanwhile, according to an RCMP affidavit filed by then Sgt. Greg Horton, the lead investigator of the Duffy case, Donohue stated that the "money was paid to the business, and that he never personally received any of it." 

Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to his Senate expense claims and their repayment. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Donohue cheques

Payee Date of cheque Amount Reason given for payment Payer
L Ian MacDonald April 3, 2009 * $7,350.00 Speech Maple Ridge Media Inc.
George Radwanski April 29, 2010      500.00 Editorial services Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Myomax Performance April 29, 2010    3,150.00 Consulting services Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Eastern Consulting April 29, 2010   2,887.50 Editing services Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Ezra Levant April, 29,2010   2,100.00 Speech Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Ashley Cain May 3, 2010      500.00 Volunteer work Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Jacqueline Lambert May 25, 2010      300.00 Makeup Maple Ridge Media inc.
David McCabe May 25, 2010      500.00 P.E.I. news clippings Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Mark Bourrie June 16, 2010      500.00 Internet troll advice Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Mary McQuaid Mar. 3, 2011   1,068.08  Travel Ottawa ICF
Ezra Levant Mar. 14, 2011   2,100.00 Speech Ottawa ICF
Myomax Performance June 3, 2011   3,390.00 Consulting Ottawa ICF
Diane Scharf Nov.18, 2011      199.63 Cell Phone Ottawa ICF
Diane Scharf Jan. 15, 2012     193.49 Blackberry Ottawa ICF
Myomax Performance Jan. 20, 2012   3,559.50 Consulting Ottawa ICF
Diane Scharf Feb. 20, 2012       97.30 Bell invoice Ottawa ICF
William Kittelberg Mar. 2, 2012   2,000.00 Consulting (Energy) Ottawa ICF
MQO Research Aug. 10, 2012    1,054.66 Online polling data Ottawa ICF
Jiffy Print (total of 13 cheques) April 6 - Mar. 14, 2012    1,578.52 Photos Maple Ridge Media Inc., Ottawa ICF
TOTAL $33,028.68

* The date of the actual date of the cheque to MacDonald is unclear. The April 3 date is the day the cheque was deposited.

Government payments to Gerald Donohue (or Donohue family related firm) for 4 contracts

Payer Date of cheque Amount Description of services Payee
Government of Canada April 22, 2009 $10,500 Consulting, editorial services, Heritage Project Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Government of Canada April 17, 2010 13,996.50 Editorial, writing services, including speeches project regarding aging of the Canadian population. Maple Ridge Media Inc.
Governrment of Canada Jan. 10, 2011 $13,560.00

Media monitoring, write and edit speeches, press releases, letters to the editor, tributes and birthday greetings, provide "general advice and counsel in the areas of media and communications" and "other such duties as may arise from time to time."

Gerald Donohue

Government of Canada

(9 cheques)

June 29, 2011 - April 5, 2012

$26,860 Consulting, editorial services Ottawa ICF (C/O of Gerald Donohue)
Total $64,916.50