No inquiry into MLA spending - Metro US

No inquiry into MLA spending

Premier Darrell Dexter will not set up an inquiry to look into political expenses.

The recent report by auditor general Jacques Lapointe only examines expenses from 2006 to June ’09. The last expense prior to this audit was 15 years ago. Lapointe also couldn’t audit the up to $48,000 in non-receipted allowances MLAs have every year because there is no paper trail. An inquiry could require MLAs to explain what they spent, but Dexter said Thursday that isn’t needed.

“The purpose of an inquiry is to get a result, to get recommendations. And in fact we already have the recommendations that have been put forward by the auditor general,” he said, adding work has begun to overhaul the system. “What is done is done. We need to make sure we have something in place that works for all concerned,” he said.

Dexter rejected having police look at egregious expenses, saying the system limped along for years with rules “so broad and so porous that these things were allowed.”

Yet Dexter cited those same rules to explain why he expensed a briefcase costing $359 before taxes, which most professions would call a personal item.

“This was a legitimate expense that was authorized under the guidelines,” he said. “It’s just a functional piece of equipment as far as I’m concerned,”

Finance Minister Graham Steele confirmed the speaker could call an Internal Economy Board Meeting at any time to change the rules and demand receipts for all expenses.

But Speaker Charlie Parker said that won’t happen yet. Parker said he does plan an IEB meeting in the next couple weeks, but the only change on the books is banning members from expensing meals on days they get an $84 food per diem.

Parker said they’re waiting on recommendations from former speaker Art Donahoe, who Dexter charged with figuring out new rules, before going any further.

Donahoe’s full report is due in July, but he said his preliminary recommendations will be released as soon as the end of this month.

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