Sen. Patrick Brazeau’s fraudulent Senate living and travels expense claims are a breach of trust, according to a sworn RCMP affidavit filed in an Ottawa court Thursday.
That means Brazeau, a former Conservative senator, broke the law. He’s in a serious legal pickle.
According to RCMP investigator, Corporal Greg Horton, Sen. Brazeau “does not live” in Maniwaki, Quebec and he falsely claimed his father’s Maniwaki residence there as his primary residence in order to “inappropriately” claim the annual $22,000 taxpayer-funded Senate housing allowance.
Senators can claim up to $22,000 in annual living expenses, but only if their primary home is 100 kilometers from Parliament Hill.
According Senate records, Brazeau defrauded taxpayers of at least $48,744.
An earlier Senate internal review examined the Harper-appointed senator’s expenses and “raised a number of questions.” It identified “issues that merited an external third party review.”
Earlier this year, an independent audit by Deloitte confirmed Brazeau’s fraudulent claims. It concluded that his primary residence during the period investigated – April 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 - was a rented home in Gatineau, Quebec, a short drive from Parliament Hill. It also found that Brazeau spend only 10 percent “of the 549 days in the period of review at his declared primary residence of Maniwaki.”
“The investigation has shown that Brazeau does not live in Maniwaki, nor does he own a home there,” Horton wrote in his affidavit. “Brazeau’s father resides in Maniwaki, but the Senator, since being appointed to the Senate, has not.”
Brazeau was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, but the dictatorship-style protection he’d have been entitle to is gone. He was kicked out of the Conservative caucus after being charged with assault and sexual assault in February. He’s also currently on a forced leave of absence from the Senate.
In May, the Senate committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration ordered Brazeau to repay the $48,744 he owes. Brazeau defied the order. In fact, his response bespoke the arrogance and third-world-style sense of entitlement that’s currently eroding the soul of our democratically-challenged upper house.
“Senator Brazeau has fulfilled his obligations in forwarding all relevant documentation requested by the committee and auditors,” read the statement from Debby Simms, a policy adviser in the senator’s office. Brazeau added that he would “be seeking greater clarification and will explore all options to have this determination overturned.”
That’s unlikely. The National Post reports that the RCMP has also expanded the probe to include tax exemptions Brazeau claimed as a status Indian.
The RCMP is also investigating the fraudulent claims of Sen. Mike Duffy, another scandal-ridden Harper-appointee and one of the Red Chamber’s top 10 spenders, and those of Liberal Senator Marc Harb. Harb has vowed to legally challenge the Senate’s order to repay the $51,482 he owes.