Secret emails reveal a plan to have the government go easy on embattled Conservative Senator Mike Duffy for a repayment, two months before the audit into fraudulent housing expenses claims was tabled.
Sources told CTV Prime Minister Stephen Harper's right-hand man and chief of staff Nigel Wright had a PMO lawyer work on a letter of understanding with Duffy's legal council to have him repay the money in turn for financial assistance and for the government to go easy on him.
At one point, Duffy expected the PMO to cover his $90,172 bill. In an email from February 20, Duffy and Wright agreed to a "scenario" where a repayment arrangement was made, including “cash for the repayment.”
Two days later, Duffy came out to the public, announcing he "may have been mistaken" for claiming his cottage house in Prince Edward Island was his primary residence when in fact he lives in a house in Ottawa, which happens to have a $370,000 mortgage.
A senior official wouldn't comment on where the money came from, including a loan from the royal bank, but one thing is certain, it didn't come from the Conservative Party.
UPDATE: Wright personally paid Duffy's housing expenses, potentially breaking more rules. Read more:Chief of Staff gifts Mike Duffy money, potentially breaks more rules.
Both Duffy and the PMO have actively tried to assure no taxpayer money was used to repay Duffy's expenses in an identical statement: “Mr. Duffy had paid back the expenses in question – and no taxpayer resources were used.”
The opposition weighed in, and as expected, were not impressed with the developments.
“If there is some kind of agreement that somehow Senator Duffy is going to be compensated, then I think Canadians would be appalled,” Liberal Deputy Leader Ralph Goodale said.
“It doesn't pass the smell test and the Prime Minister’s Office needs to come clean.”
It goes to show any ounce of integrity this government had left is gone. The top ranks actively bailed out a rich senator who defrauded taxpayers.
Government House leader Peter Van Loan fought back saying Duffy repaid his dues in March, "well before" the conversation with Tkachuk.
"In fact, he showed the kind of leadership that we would like to see from Liberal Sen. Mac Harb, who instead is taking up arms against the Senate, saying that he should not have to pay back inappropriate funds," Van Loan said.