Opposition leaders and some in government are now calling for the names of politicians who misused public money to be publicly released.
Auditor general Jacques Lapointe detailed a litany of potential abuses in his report Wednesday, but refused to name names. He said it was the government speaker’s decision whether to release the names.
So far, Speaker Charlie Parker has said he will not release names. He said it’s up to the individual members to come clean.
Some have, but many expenses remain unclaimed, such as a $2,500 LCD television and $740 espresso maker.
On Thursday, almost every government cabinet minister either repeated the personal responsibility line or said they couldn’t comment because it was the speaker’s decision. But some broke ranks.
“I think the public has a right to know who spent it, for sure,” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell.
Progressive Conservative Leader Karen Casey said her personal belief was “these are taxpayers’ dollars, we have nothing to hide, let ‘em see it.”
But she wouldn’t name the four former Tory MLAs who were implicated in the report. She said since they were no longer members of her caucus, it wasn’t her responsibility to out them.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said his party supports the names being made public, but MLAs should be given notice first.
“I have no problem (with it),” he said. “But I do believe members need to be told themselves in advance. I don’t believe it’s fair that members (first) be reading about this in the paper, on the news.”
Leaders of all three parties spoke to their caucuses and encouraged them to come forward if they were mentioned in the report.
Deputy Premier Frank Corbett — filling in while Premier Darrell Dexter is on vacation — apologized to taxpayers despite not being named personally in the report.
“When Nova Scotians are asked to do hard things and then they see members of their leadership doing these other things that seem to be wasting their money, then of course they deserve an apology,” he said.
“While my name is not in there, I feel awful about this and I apologize to Nova Scotians.”
Politicians mentioned in AG’s report
The following current and former MLAs have come forward to say they were mentioned in the auditor general’s report:
• Premier Darrell Dexter — Spent $5,501 on two laptop computers and $2,150 on a camera. Within regulations but deemed to be excessive. Repaying the full amount for both.
• Agriculture Minister John MacDonell — Expensed $13,445 on custom-made office furniture. Also bought most expensive printer of any MLA at $2,600. Has reimbursed government for furniture and said he just found out about the printer cost.
• Speaker Charlie Parker — His $790 for a model boat was seen as excessive. Has reimbursed government.
• Halifax Chebucto MLA Howard Epstein — $3,000 on books deemed excessive.
• Halifax Citadel MLA Leonard Preyra — Inappropriately expensed $373 on airfare for a guest’s flight to Ottawa. Preyra said it was a mistake and reimbursed government.
• Glace Bay MLA Dave Wilson — $400 expensed on patio furniture. Wilson said receipts got mistakenly mixed in with office expenses. Has reimbursed government.
• Richmond MLA Michelle Samson — $1,200 of apartment Internet bills paid over three years. Hasn’t been asked to repay bills but has contacted speaker’s office to offer reimbursement.
• Preston MLA Keith Colwell — Against regulations, expensed $252 worth of 3-D art from brother for door prizes at community events. Has repaid money. Also spent $2,665 for a projector, which was seen as excessive.
• Clare MLA Wayne Gaudet — Payment of $1,260 for parking-lot sanding to company owned by brother. Was against regulations.
• Halifax Clayton Park MLA Diana Whalen — 13,000 calendars for public, most of any MLA, seen as potentially excessive advertising. Whalen said she uses the calendars as a form of community outreach and way to keep in touch with constituents. She also notes she has most constituents of any riding in the province.
• Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt — $8,000 to have generator installed in home. Seen as potentially illegitimate. Thursday night, Hurlburt agreed to pay the full $8,000. He first only committed to pay $3,000.
• Former Inverness MLA Rodney MacDonald — Purchased a $2,665 projector screen for business presentations. Contacted speaker’s office and awaiting clarification on whether payback is required.
• Former Eastern Shore MLA Bill Dooks spent $6,234 to create website for constituency office. Awaiting clarification on whether payback is required.