The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation( RCMP) into Mike Duffy's Senate expense claims has expanded to see if there is evidence that there was wrongdoing by others including people in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
Mike Duffy, appointed to the Senate by Harper, originally said he paid back disputed expenses to the tune of $90,000 through a loan received from RBC but that loan was actually for renovations on a house. Duffy told the Senate last week that the story about the RBC loan was part of a script: "That line about RBC was part of a script written for me and emailed to me by the PMO." Duffy claims that there is a chain of emails that lead into the office of the prime minister (PMO). In return for Duffy's keeping to the script Nigel Wright Stephen Harper's chief of staff issued a personal check for $90,000 to pay back the disputed expenses.
Supt. Biage Carrese of the RCMP said: "The existence of such documentation may potentially be evidence of criminal wrongdoing by others. " Carrese also wrote that the RCMP seeks "Emails from the PMO specifically relating to a script for Senator Duffy to follow in advance of obtaining funds from a RBC loan to repay the Receiver General". A spokesperson for Harper said that the PMO is working with the RCMP but claimed: "We have received no such letter from the RCMP. As we have already stated, we are actively assisting the RCMP in their investigation". According the letter from Carrese the RCMP is also seeking emails from Wright to Duffy on Dec. 4, 2012 that assure Duffy that his expenses were in order and another Jan. 6, 2009 about Senate residency policy. The documents would support Duffy's claim that his residency requirement and expenses were not an issue earlier. These emails were tabled in Senate by Duffy last week but not those he claims came from the PMO's office. The RCMP refused to comment to the CBC about the letter. According to Duffy the PMO, former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin, Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, and Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne all were involved in the deal. Duffy said of the emails the RCMP is requesting: "When you look at all those emails in that chain, it proves this was a setup from the start and that I am innocent" . Duffy at the very least is guilty of accepting the deal and lying about paying back his disputed expenses with his own money. The complete RCMP letter is available here. Mike Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, also has spoken about the deal with Nigel Wright in this article.
At the recent Conservative Convention Sen. Irving Gerstein, chair of Conservative Fund Canada, made comments supposed to clarify the issue of the party involvement in Duffy's expense issue. Gerstein said: “First, I made it absolutely clear to Nigel Wright (then the prime minister’s chief of staff) that the Conservative Fund of Canada would not pay for Sen. Duffy’s disputed expenses, and it never did.” However the RCMP from information garnered from Nigel Wright's lawyers said:“The Conservative Party was initially going to pay the money for Duffy, from a Conservative fund, when it was believed that the amount he owed was approximately $32,000. The fund is controlled by Senator Gerstein.“When it was realized that the cost was actually $90,000, it was too much money to ask the Conservative Party to cover.” Gerstein did not take any questions from delegates. Gerstein did confirm that the party paid 12,000 plus tax for Duffy's legal bills which he portrayed simply as common practice though it was not done for Pamela Wallin. If the Conservatives thought that Duffy was at fault as their leader Stephen Harper claims why would they fork out over $10,000 in party funds to pay his legal bills? Gerstein remarks clarify little but they add to the evidence that even those inside the top levels of the Conservative party knew what was happening. Yet, the prime minister, Stephen Harper, is carefully isolated, standing in supreme innocence, uncontaminated by the scandal.
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