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Senate forwards Wallin's expense audit to RCMP

By Jessica Murphy, Senior Washington Correspondent

A Senate committee is calling the cops on besieged Sen. Pamela Wallin.

The internal economy committee made the decision Tuesday to refer the audit on travel expenses submitted by the Conservative appointee between January 2009 and September 2012 to the RCMP.

"I believe I can speak for my colleagues on both sides when I say that we found aspects of the Deloitte report very troubling," said Liberal Sen. George Furey after the committee spent two days poring over the document.

Asked whether the Senate expense rule were clear, he said: "The vast majority know what events are legitimate and what are not. I mean 97, 98% of senators get it right."

Auditors flagged 27% of Wallin's $532,508 in travel claims as out of line, saying she should repay $121,348 in expenses — which includes the $38,000 she's already refunded — and found an additional $20,978 that is "subject to interpretation."

At issue is a slew of claims for travel the bookkeepers judged as personal, business or partisan, but that Wallin billed to the taxpayer.

Some claims lacked paperwork, such as $1,828.95 for an Ottawa-Toronto round trip in Sept. 2009 claimed as Senate business. Auditors found a lack of documentation to "support the occurrence or nature of this meeting."

In some cases, the dates in Wallin's electronic calendar and in her handwritten datebook were mismatched, such as a $1,535.35, June 2009 trip purportedly to a "True Patriot Love" tribute dinner press conference. In that case, a 2012 version of the electronic calendar had her turning down the invitation, a 2013 backup had a new entry for the event, and her datebook had it scratched out in pen.

The report states her "flight schedule would not have allowed her" to attend anyway.

Wallin did not return requests for comment Tuesday, but on Monday called the audit "the result of a fundamentally flawed and unfair process."

She also committed to repaying any amount — plus interest — requested of her and argued changes to her electronic calendar made in May were to streamline the auditing process on the recommendation of Tory Sen. David Tkachuk, something he denied.

The Senate committee also decided Wallin's travel claims will receive extra scrutiny and be monitored for at least one year.

It's now up to the Mounties to decide whether the audit warrants further investigation and possible charges.

The former broadcaster isn't the only senator in the hot seat over expense claims.

Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb are all currently under RCMP investigation over housing expenses.

Poll

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