Wednesday, October 23, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mike Duffy’s lawyer says $90K cheque was a deal with PMO

Senator Mike Duffy’s living expenses were “cleared from Day 1” by then Senate government leader Marjory LeBreton’s office, and when they later became controversial, Duffy was pressured to take a deal from the Prime Minister’s Office, his lawyer told a news conference Monday.

Lawyer Donald Bayne on Monday read from emails between Duffy and LeBreton’s office as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright and others to support his claim that Duffy did not knowingly break Senate rules.

Bayne said that when the growing scandal became politically explosive Duffy was “in effect” told by the PMO not to co-operate with auditors, Bayne said.

Bayne said the PMO told Duffy “the Tory base” was offended by his residency claims and he would have to repay money for all four years of secondary housing claims for his Ottawa home. Duffy’s objections to repaying money he did not believe he owed, said Bayne, were greeted by “threats and pressure from the PMO.”

One of those threats, said Bayne, was that senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen, who held the majority on a Senate subcommittee, would declare Duffy’s Senate appointment constitutionally invalid if he refused to co-operate with accepting a payment from Nigel Wright.

“The PMO decided they wanted to sweep a political embarrassment to their Tory base under the rug, and they threatened Senator Duffy with wholly unconstitutional and illegal procedures of throwing him out of the Senate without a hearing if he failed to go along with it,” Bayne said.

The PMO, Bayne said, came up with a “scenario” and communication lines for Duffy to use with the media about how to explain why he was paying back the expense money. “It was a political tactic forced on him by the PMO,” Bayne said. (Source: CBC News)