Using tax dollars to travel for private business, and paying staff to work personal events.
These are just a few of the allegations against retired BC Senator Gerry St. Germain, who will now see his case turned over to the RCMP.
The Auditor General’s report claims the influential former senator filed over $55,000 dollars that weren’t for senate business.
The report claims St. Germain took six trips to Edmonton to attend private board meetings – while he claimed he was meeting with First Nations representatives
“…the Senator was an active member of the board of directors of a private group of companies based in Edmonton and he attended board meetings during these trips. We determined that the trips were taken to pursue the private business interests of the Senator. “
The total cost to taxpayers?
The audit also identifies over $43,000 dollars in staff travel for what it calls “personal” events.
“During the audit period, the Senator’s staff attended six events that were held at the Senator’s home: two events in support of a charity and four political party events. They also attended other events, including his 50th wedding celebration, an awards gala where the Senator was a recipient, and a regional retirement party for him.”
In terms of his trips to Edmonton, St. Germain says he worked for First Nations causes.
He explains the $43,000 in staff expenses as required extra support during his final year, and that he was rewarding them for their hard work.
St. Germain shredded parliamentary documentation
The former senator denies the findings of the report, and in comments included in the report Gerry St. Germain says he finds the accusations defamatory.
While he says he shredded his senate documents to facilitate a move to a smaller office, he claims he did his best to explain his expenses.
The former Senator’s comments
(This is an excerpt from the AG report of the former BC Senator’s comments.)
Further to your letter of April 22, 2015, and further to my telephone conversation with [a member of the audit team] of April 30, 2015, I am responding to your letter containing your proposed final conclusions of your audit of my former Senate office. Let me state that I disagree with the presentation of your findings.
In my letter of March 27, 2015, I asked [a member of the audit team] to explain the definition of the term “parliamentary business”, and how the term was being applied against the audit objective. Your office has not responded.
The presentation and tone of your general observations insinuate that I misappropriated my office resources in a nefarious manner. I find these apparent accusations to be a defamatory affront to my personal integrity. I have stated to your auditors time and again that the shredding of my documents was done as a necessity related to my move to a smaller residence in advance of my prior knowledge of an audit being conducted. The timing of this event and my full explanation is missing from your conclusions.
You make note my travel to Edmonton not being for public benefit. Your conclusions fail to mention that in absence of other supporting documentation, I provided your office with a substantive list of people to call who could speak to the Parliamentary nature of my work with First Nations in the area. During these trips, I worked with a number of First Nations people on the development of legislation to enable First Nations Self Government. Bill S 216, which was tabled on my final day in the Senate, the Bill’s 4th iteration under my leadership, was a cornerstone work of my career. My trips to Edmonton encapsulated this and other works of public benefit.
You make note of the travel of my office staff not being for public benefit. Once again, in the absence of supporting documentation, I provided your office with a substantive list of people to call, including members of my former staff and other public office holders, who would have been able to speak to the public business and support to me that my staff provided on these trips. To my knowledge, your office has not contacted anyone.
With respect to the individuals on contract to my office, I required extra support during my final year. I demanded significant results from these people and compensated them fairly and within the rules of the Senate for the work that was performed.
Let me state that the information contained within this response was done by me from memory to the best of my recollection. I believe I operated within the rules and my office consulted with Senate Administration on major expenditures to ensure compliance. I am prepared to defend this response and my previous communications with your office in the public realm if necessary.