Nova Scotia auditor general finds inappropriate spending by politicians

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Some Nova Scotia politicians have filed expense claims that were "excessive or inappropriate" because of inadequate spending controls that invite errors and misuse, the province's auditor general says.
In a report released Wednesday, Jacques Lapointe concluded that inappropriate claims were made by some politicians for personal items, including nearly $8,000 for a generator installed at a member's residence and $1,260 for parking lot sanding from a company owned by a member's brother.
Excessive expenditures included $13,445 for custom-made office furniture, $5,501 for a laptop computer and $790 for a model boat office display, Lapointe said.
"We found a number of cases in which support for expenditures was deficient or did not provide adequate information to determine whether the claim for reimbursement was appropriate," Lapointe said in his report, noting that some claims were provided without original invoices or evidence that payments were made.
Lapointe audited the expenses filed by and paid to members of the legislature between July 2006 and June 2009.
"The extent to which system weaknesses, processing errors, innocent mistakes or conscious decisions by members contributed to these expenditures is unclear," Lapointe said.
In a separate statement, Lapointe explained why he did not identify the politicians whose expenses he questioned.
"Ultimately, I decided to exclude members' names from the report, not for their protection but because I hope to focus attention on a broken system that requires fixing, rather than on individuals," he said.
"(But) the argument can be made that there is both a public interest and right to know."
Lapointe said some procedures have since been tightened and some politicians have paid back money.
Lapointe said the legislature's 52 members receive significant funding for which they are not accountable, adding that regulations aren't clear on the purpose of the funds provided.
Lapointe also found that 44 members paid out over $410,000 to 157 staff in a way that is unclear whether the money is subject to taxation.

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, HALIFAX

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Recent comments

  • Not surprised
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    The names SHOULD be reported and those that acted unethically should be held accountable. It may be the system's weakness, but these people were hired by the public to help us, not nickle and dime us for nice office furnature or decorations. The $410,000 better be better classified and any wrongdoings must be repaid!
    D*$!# crooks.

  • JIMMY
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Something sounds fishy here.

  • Ben
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    For the full 149 page report go to
    www.oag-ns.ca/feb2010/full0210.pdf
    Pages 68 to 71 provide a list of the big spenders from July 2008 to June 2009...Unofficially it looks like an NDP sweep of the medals with the gold medal in expenses going to NDP Leonard Preyra with total expenses of $114,850, the silver goes to NDP Darrell Dexter with $113,224 while NDP David Wilson had to settle for the bronze with expenses of $111,072. Graham Steele finished out of the medals with only $100,576 in expense spending. Congratulations to all the winners, and with the current NDP majority this years expense race is shaping up to be a very competitive and costly event for the tax payers of Nova Scotia. Hang on to your wallets folks because it looks like a 2% increase in the HST might be enough to support all the work needed for todays families .